Columbia guard Marquez Bell rushes up the court against tight defense from Gainesville’s Josh Dudley during Tuesday night’s game (PHOTO BY ERIC JACKSON/Lake City Reporter).

BOYS BASKETBALL: Gainesville routs Columbia for top seed in district tourney

The Tigers fall 59-34 at home, will head into the bracket as the No. 2 seed

Ma’leak Miller rose up on the fast break for a point-blank layup and missed. 

Marcus Owens’ put-back? Off the rim.

It summed up an awful night for Columbia, which was blown out by Gainesville 59-34 on its home floor in the biggest game of the season Tuesday night. The Hurricanes locked up the No. 1 seed and home court advantage in next month’s District 4-7A Tournament while the Tigers are set into the two spot.

Columbia (14-7, 6-2) scored just nine points combined in the second and third quarters and saw an 11-point halftime deficit balloon to as much as 32 in the fourth quarter. No Tiger scored in double figures, with Marquez Bell and Jeremiah Mobley leading the team with eight points apiece.

Dallas Tealer came off the bench to lead Gainesville (17-5, 8-0) with 14 points, including four three-pointers, while Christian Miller-Cardwell and Diamond Smith both added 10 each.

“They were way better than us tonight,” Columbia coach Steve Faulkner said. “When you don’t make shots and you settle for threes on one or two passes on offense and they’re not going in, you’re going to be terrible and that’s what we were tonight.”

The Tigers came into the night a game behind the Hurricanes in the district and could have stolen the top seed in the district away with a win. That would’ve tied both teams atop the conference, forcing a coin flip for home court advantage in a couple of weeks.

Instead, Columbia will face either Vanguard or Forest in the district semifinals.

“I told my players at the end of the day, the only thing that’s different now than two to three hours ago is we have to play the district tournament down there,” Faulkner said. “Even if we won tonight it was still a coin flip from still being there, so in theory, nothing’s really changed. We go down there and we won’t see GHS until the district final. If we take care of business in the semifinal, we get an opportunity to erase that from our memories and try to maybe win a district title. But there will be a little bit of basketball in-between that.”

Mobley hit a three-pointer to open the second quarter, pulling the Tigers to within 16-13 but that’s as close as they would get the rest of the night. The Hurricanes closed the half on a 10-2 run during a stretch where Columbia went scoreless for minutes until Jacquise Brown made a layup before Jaden McKay ended the half with a driving lay-in for a 26-15 lead.

Brown opened the second half with a layup for Columbia’s only field goal of the third quarter as Gainesville outscored its rival 13-4 in the period thanks to eight points from Tealer. Desmond Ridgeway scored all nine of his points in the fourth quarter, with his layup giving the Hurricanes their biggest lead of the night at 57-25.

“We just wanted to come in and play really good half court defense,” Gainesville coach Kelly Beckham said. “(The second half) surprised me a little bit, not to the fact of them but, I thought we really picked it up in the second half. Overall, I’m pleased.”

Brown was Columbia’s next highest scorer with five points while Tray Miller scored four. Jordan Smith, one of the Tigers’ top scorers, went the entire game without a field goal and finished with just a point.

Columbia also struggled mightily from beyond the arc, with Mobley hitting the team’s only two treys of the night.

“We’ve had some games this year where we’ve shot it really well and I think some of my guys think that’s just going to happen every game and I think GHS is a lot better defensively than most teams we play so those open shots you get against some teams aren’t so open,” Faulkner said. “Offensively we just weren’t very good tonight and they took advantage of it and that’s what a well-coached, good team does.”

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