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High school basketball: Flowery Branch boys impressive in win against East Hall
Flowery Branch's Jayden Gudz (4) goes up for a block against East Hall on Nov. 29, 2022 in Flowery Branch. Photo by Amanda Loggins For The Times

Defense was the order of the night for both the Flowery Branch boys and girls during their home basketball doubleheader with East Hall on Tuesday.

The boys applied their defensive clamps from the get go, finishing with 16 steals and also getting a boost from a big offensive night by Tyleek Worth and Fe Honors to run away for a 66-47 victory.

Earlier in the evening, the Falcon girls spotted East Hall a sizeable early lead before turning the game around late in the first quarter and early in the second, and holding off a late rally attempt by the visiting Vikings for a 56-47 win.

The Flowery Branch boys weren’t quite perfect in their nightcap of the doubleheader, but the Falcons were more than good enough to stay perfect on the young season at 4-0.

“I think our energy’s been good,” Flowery Branch coach Jay Burney said. “I hadn’t been very happy with our halfcourt offense and sometimes our decision making. … (But) we’re getting better (with the fullcourt defense). We’re going to have to a little bit deeper in disguising it some different ways as (opponents) watch us play. As we see more talented guards, that’s not going to be realistic every night.”

Honors came off the bench to lead the way offensively with 22 points and pulled down nine rebounds, while Worth added 20 points and 10 boards.

Both were also part of the Falcons’ stifling defensive effort with three and two steals each respectively and a blocked shot each, while Jayden Gudz led the way with five steals.

Flowery Branch turned many of those early turnovers into points on the other end, including during a 9-0 run in the final minutes of the first quarter to build a comfortable 19-6 led by the end of the opening frame.

East Hall (0-4), who were without star wing C.J. Agborsangaya, tried to battle back behind Jamarcus Harrison (team-high 19 points, plus seven rebounds) and Levi Holtzclaw (10 points).

But the Vikings, who also got five points and seven rebounds from Chasen Jones, could never pull any closer than eight points the rest of the way.

And while Worth and Honors were the only Flowery Branch players in double-figure scoring, the Falcons got contributions throughout their lineup, including six points, five rebounds, three assists and the five steals from Gudz, plus six boards and three assists from Jeremiah Ware.

Meanwhile, it was East Hall (1-3) that turned defense into offense in the early going of the girls game.

The duo of Maleah Harrison (21 points, nine rebounds, three steals) and Kaylana Curry (10 points, five rebounds, five assists) leading a charge that helped the Vikings build as much as a 20-7 lead late in the first quarter.

But Flowery Branch (3-2) turned the tables on them, scoring the final 11 points of the opening frame and holding East Hall scoreless until the 4:40 mark of the second quarter to pull to within 20-18.

Bella Brick also began to heat up on her way to game highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds, plus three steals.

However, the Lady Falcons did much of their damage on the offensive end in the paint, with Brannen Shiloh (11 points, six rebounds) and Sophie Woolums (four points, five boards) coming off the bench to provide plenty of power down low.

As a result, the Lady Falcons outscored the Lady Vikings 18-5 in the second quarter to build a 36-25 lead by intermission.

“Basically, we needed to settle down,” Flowery Branch girls coach Courtney Newton said. “This is (only) our second (game) playing at home. We’ve got a group that hasn’t played a lot of minutes at home, and we were just rushing, and (East Hall) jumped on us (early).

“Once we started settling down and making better passes in the press, we started slowing down offensively and changing penetration defensively just to slow the game down. And I’m really proud of our bench and how they played. I think our bigs played really well for us. As a team, it was a different lineup than we’ve had to go with (usually). That’s when it’s about playing team ball.”

Despite trailing by as much as 14 in the second half, East Hall twice battled back to within two possessions, first at 43-38 by the end of the third quarter, and then as close as 51-45 following Haley Barton’s layup off an inbound from Curry’s inbound with 1:11 remaining.

But they would get no closer, as Brick and Jess Tamplin (eight points, six rebounds) down the stretch helped Flowery Branch put the game away.

The Falcons also got important contributions from Amyia Scott (five points, 10 rebounds, two steals), while Terriah Watkins chipped in nine points and seven boards for the Lady Vikings.

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