Keith MacPherson, Sports Editor
GAINESVILLE — Despite a barrage of 3-pointers by Bridgeport, the Gainesville Leopards were able to hold on for a 58-55 win over the Bulls Tuesday at the GHS gym.
The win keeps Gainesville (13-7 overall) in first place in District 9-3A with a 5-1 record.
Bridgeport (14-16 overall, 1-6 district) hit 10 3-pointers and had a chance to send the game to overtime with an 11th, but the shot fell short in the final seconds.
It was Gainesville’s long-range shooting that gave them an early lead. David Moore hit a pair of 3-pointers and Demetrius Franklin and Landon Bond each added one as the Leopards took a 20-16 lead after the first quarter.
It looked as if Gainesville would run away in the second period. Another three by Moore, and buckets by DeQuan Wilford and Jonathan Mendez helped the Leopards stretch their lead to 31-19 with just over three minutes left in the half.
But the Bulls closed the half on an 8-0 run including back-to-back threes from Alex Samples to cut the deficit to 31-27 at halftime.
The third quarter was closely contested. The game was tied 34-34 before Gainesville got field goals from Denzel Johnson, Wilford and Chance Sikes to go up by six, only to see Reese Reed score at the buzzer to pull the Bulls back within four.
Gainesville led by as many as eight early in the fourth, but Samples got hot again from beyond the arc. The Bulls used a 7-0 run to tie the score 46-46 with 4:51 remaining.
The Leopards were up 52-47 with under two minutes remaining when Dalton Hudson hit yet another three for Bridgeport. The Bulls eventually got within one (56-55) after another 3-pointer from Samples with under 30 seconds remaining, but the Leopards quickly inbounded the ball and found a streaking Franklin for an easy layup to go back up by three.
After a timeout, Bridgeport came down court and set up for the final shot which came up short.
Moore finished with 17 points for Gainesville, while Johnson added 12, Franklin and Bond each had 8, Wilford scored 6, Mendez had 4, Sikes added 2 and Devin Mims scored 1.
For Bridgeport, Samples had 20 points, Reed added 13 and Derrick Stanford scored 11.