Gainesville head coach Jeff Wolf has been coaching basketball a long time and Friday’s district-opening contest against Aubrey was a relatively unique one for him.
The Leopards held a double-digit lead in the first half, but the Chaparrals held off Gainesville in the final minutes of the game for the 67-61 victory.
After the game, Wolf admitted that this game was one of the most painful he had experienced in his career.
“This is one of the worst losses,” Wolf said. “I’ve got 16 years experience and this one hurts. It’s up there. That one hurts us because I’m not sure there’s much we could have done differently. We’re going to compete and we’re going to fight because it’s a program thing. We’re all fighting together like a family.”
Sophomore center Tre Lawson primed the Leopards with 27 points, but he was tagged for three fouls in the fourth quarter to foul out of the game.
Aubrey struggled to defend Lawson the entire game, so losing him was a big blow to the Leopards’ offense.
“I’m used to him playing well,” Wolf said. “We expect him to do that. There’s nobody on the court that can guard him. I have high expectations out of him because we can continue to get better. I don’t want to downplay his great game. At the end of the day we want to continue to improve as as a program.”
Lawson’s conventional 3-point play gave the Leopards a 21-10 lead after the first quarter as they closed the frame on an 11-2 run.
Gainesville built a 25-10 lead early in the second quarter, but then the Chaparrals put together their most consistent stretch of the game that proved to be critical for the Leopards.
Aubrey outscored Gainesville 22-3 to take a 32-28 lead to halftime. The Chaparrals killed the Leopards in transition for easy layups while also forcing turnovers from Gainesville to stunt its offense.
Hayden Smith led all players with 28 points along with 21 points from Austin Carter while Draylon Franklin added 17 points for the Leopards.
Lawson put on a show in the third quarter in which he scored 11 points — all of which came at the end of the third frame in a 13-0 run that gave the Leopards a 52-46 advantage headed to the final frame.
Gainesville led 58-52 early in the fourth, but Aubrey landed the final punch as the Chaparrals closed out the game on a 15-3 rally to win their first district game of the season.
“Things start to go in a positive way in a hurry, and it works the other way around,” Wolf said. “It’s like a snowball effect. So basically, that’s kind of what happened. It was a game of runs and Aubrey had the last one.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip