Tray Harrison only scored nine points, but the last four were some of the biggest of the game — and the season — for Gainesville.
The senior guard scored a basket that drew the Red Elephants to within a point, then drove the lane through traffic and scored the winning basket with 2.3 seconds remaining to give No. 9 Gainesville a 63-62 win over No. 2 Effingham County in the Class AAAAA boys semifinals at Kennesaw University.
Gainesville blew an 11-point third-quarter lead to put itself in a position that required a comeback. The Red Elephants led 48-37 with 1:35 left in the third period, only to see Effingham go on a 20-5 run and holed a 57-53 lead with 3:54 remaining.
The two sides traded leads, with Effingham going ahead 62-59 on two free throws by T.J. Johnson and a slam by Jakeenan Gant. Harrison scored on a drive to trim the lead to one and scored the winning basket after Effingham missed a pair of free throws with 19.4 seconds left.
Gainesville (23-9) was led by Shaquan Cantrell with 17 points and Deshaun Watson with 14. Chase England had 10 points and four rebounds before fouling out.
Effingham County (27-5) was led by Gant, who had 30 points and nine rebounds, and Jay Wright with 15 points.
Effingham looked like the better team early. The Rebels raced out to a 9-0 lead and had an 18-12 edge after one period. Gainesville eventually tied the game at 23-23 and led 32-30 at halftime. The Red Elephants had a 16-5 stretch in the third quarter, sparked by 3-pointers from Cantrell and Watson, and seemingly had control.
But Effingham began to take advantage of its size by pounding it inside. The Rebels scored eight straight at the line and tied it on a 3-pointer by Johnson with 5:27 left.
Gainesville (63): Harrison 9, Watson 14, Cantrell 17, England 10, Hayman 7, Maddox 4, Ruff 2.
Effingham County (62): Wilkins 6, Wright 15, Gant 30, Johnson 9, Lee 2.
Halftime: Gainesville 32-30