Following Tuesday night’s region game in Flowery Branch, both coaches for Flowery Branch High and Johnson High’s boys basketball teams could agree on one thing: The Knights clearly have a bright future ahead of them.
But the Falcons still came out on top.
Flowery Branch caught the breaks needed to disrupt the “chaos” that was Johnson’s swift offensive prowess and pull away late for a 51-40 win.
Johnson (3-3, 0-1 Region 8-5A) led by six at the break before things started coming together for David Sokol’s Falcons (4-2, 1-0 Region 8-5A). Flowery Branch overcame a slow first-half outing riddled with turnovers and streaky shooting to eventually climb within one after the third period.
They outscored the Knights 18-6 in the final minutes on the way to their first Region 8-5A win and second-straight victory on this young season. Myles Janess (13 points, four steals) knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers and added a pair of free throws during a 15-3 run by Flowery Branch spanning the majority of the final period. Justin Quick finished with a game-high 16 points and added six boards for the Falcons, followed by Patsheko Lutumba with nine points and six rebounds.
The Knights, who caught a hot streak of their own late in the second quarter, fell victim to the full-court press of Flowery Branch with just 2-of-15 shooting in the fourth and 21 percent from the field for the entire second half. A pair of 3-pointers, one at the start of the fourth and another with 22.8 seconds remaining were the Knights’ only baskets in the last eight minutes.
“We did a good job pressing and got some easy baskets,” Falcons coach David Sokol said of the second half efforts. We couldn’t make a shot (in the first half), so we couldn’t really press a whole lot. Plus, I’m telling you, (coach Tyler Whitlock) does a fantastic job with that team. They play hard, play together and they have a great coach and bright future.”
The Knights entered the locker rooms with a 26-21 halftime lead after drilling the majority of their shots from the perimeter. Three of Johnson’s six treys came off the hands of Will Richter (12 points), while Chandler Jones put up 10 of his team-high 14 points within the first two quarters. Jones created a scoring flurry of his own midway through the second period with a 3 and back-to-back layups off of Falcon turnovers to stretch Johnson’s lead to 21-15.
Three-pointers by Richter and Jesse Harbin put a lid on Johnson’s first-half output.
“We had put a gameplan in place for some of the things they do well,” Whitlock said. “And (Flowery Branch) is very well-coached, well disciplined in what they do. Our guys committed to doing what we asked them to do, and we reaped the reward from it.”
Sokol said it was as simple as telling his players to set the hustle tone in the second half that turned things around for Flowery Branch.
Janess generated steals on consecutive Johnson possessions during a 7-0 scoring run to tie the game momentarily at 29-all midway through the third. Minutes later, Lutumba ignited the home crowd by drawing the whistle in traffic and converting a three-point play to make it a one-point game.
It pretty much left Johnson with little left in the tank before the Falcons vaulted ahead for good if the final period.
“We got a little tired,” Whitlock said. “We got guys who play high minutes, and you know, we try to play pretty hard. I think it wore us down a little bit. (Flowery Branch) hit a couple of shots that weren’t falling earlier … And got a few balls that didn’t bounce our way.”
Flowery Branch continues its region slate Friday when they visit Cedar Shoals. Johnson returns to Oakwood to host Clarke Central.
FLOWERY BRANCH GIRLS 57, JOHNSON 11: Abi Whitaker lead with 10-points and Caroline Wysocki added eight for the Lady Falcons (5-1). Lexie Sengkhammee and freshman Ashlee Locke (seven rebounds) scored seven points apiece in the win as well.