The Flowery Branch girls basketball team started strong in Thursday’s Region 7-4A tournament semifinal against White County, but could not overcome a slow finish in a 54-50 loss at the hands of the Lady Warriors.
The defeat sends the Lady Falcons to the third-place game against Chestatee on Saturday at 3 p.m. It also takes away Flowery Branch’s chances of earning a home game to start the Class 4A state playoffs.
“Yeah, we wanted a home state playoff game, but we didn’t get it; we didn’t earn it,” Lady Falcons coach Courtney Newton-Gonzalez said after the game. “So we’re going to have to take whatever comes at us in state playoffs and give it our best shot.”
Ashlee Locke led the way for Flowery Branch with a 20-point, 12-rebound double-double, but the effort was not enough to lift the team to a win.
The Lady Falcons got out to the hot start, however, exchanging baskets with White County to begin the opening frame but then finishing it off with an 11-2 run that gave Flowery Branch a 5-point advantage a quarter of the way through the game. Emilee Scott and Shaina Kriews hit on 3-pointers to get the Lady Falcons offense going early.
White County clawed all the way back to tie the game with two minutes to go in the second period, but four straight free throws from Locke down the stretch helped Flowery Branch continue to keep the Lady Warriors at arm’s reach going into the break.
But White County needed just five minutes in the second half to work its way back into tying the game. Kriews hit on a couple of free throws and completed a tough 3-point play late to briefly put the Lady Falcons back in front, but the Lady Warriors scored the final 7 points of the quarter to take a narrow advantage going into the fourth.
White County kept up the momentum from there, starting the final period on a 9-2 run that gave the Lady Warriors their first double-digit lead of the game. Bella Brick hit a pair of 3s in quick succession to give Flowery Branch a brief glimmer of hope, but the Lady Falcons could not finish off the comeback.