GAINESVILLE — Denzel Johnson scored 19 points to help Gainesville pass its final non-district test with a 50-46 win over Bowie on Monday.
Johnson connected on a pair of free throws with 4.2 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach for Gainesville after Bowie fought back from a double-digit first half deficit.
Gainesville (8-6) will begin District 9-3A play against Krum next Tuesday.
The Jackrabbits (9-15) cut the Gainesville lead to 48-46 on a Jeffrey Padgett layup with 14 seconds left before Johnson was fouled on the inbound allowing him a chance to ice the game.
David Moore scored 10 points while pulling down five rebounds and dishing out six assists. Jonathan Mendez had eight points, seven rebounds and six steals.
Gainesville opened up a 17-6 lead early in the second quarter when a barrage of Bowie turnovers allowed Johnson to score the first six points of the quarter – on two layups and two free throws.
The Leopards lead would again reach double-digit when Johnson connected on the back half of an and-1 to make it 27-16. The senior was fouled while attempting an acrobatic put back.
Gainesville struggled from the field at times, shooting 30 percent on the night. The Leopards connected on only 2 of 14 shots from beyond the arc.
While the Leopards were off on their shot at times, they made up for it in hustle stats. Gainesville out rebounded Bowie 25-20 and forced more steals 16-10.
Moore ended a Leopard scoring drought coming out of halftime with a breakaway layup three minutes into the second half to make it 29-24. The basket ended an 8-0 Bowie run.
Bowie senior Derek Vann splashed in a 3-pointer from the corner with a little more than a minute in the game left to pull the Jackrabbits within three points – 43-40.
Vann led Bowie with 17 points. Padgett scored 14 on 5 of 7 shooting.
Mendez would answer Vann’s trey with a nifty left handed layup in the lane that would force the Jackrabbits to foul in the final minute of the game.