Friday night's Region 7-4A bout between the Flowery Branch and Marist girls basketball teams will be a special one for the seniors on the Lady Falcons squad.
It’s senior night for the class that has reached three state quarterfinals, a pair of state semifinals and a state championship game since coming to Flowery Branch as freshmen. A victory over the Lady War Eagles would add another accolade to the group’s long list of achievements: 100 total wins with the program.
Considering the Lady Falcons could also lock up the top seed in the region tournament by beating Marist, the team will certainly not be lacking for motivation come game time.
“It’s crazy that it all fell on one night,” Flowery Branch coach Courtney Newton-Gonzalez said. “Just to think that as a group that they’ve won that many games, it’s special.”
Newton-Gonzalez took over the program four seasons earlier, when today’s seniors were newcomers, so a win would also be her 100th as head coach of the Lady Falcons. It will also be her last regular season home game with the first class she’s spent a full four years coaching.
Emotions will be running high for a group that has been through quite a bit in the past couple of years, but that shouldn’t really affect how the team plays, according to senior guard Ashley Scott.
She’s just ready to get out on the court.
“There’s definitely nerves because it’s our last regular season home game of the year,” Scott said. “But mainly we’re just excited.”
A win would cap off a perfect home record on the year for Flowery Branch, and would bring the team one game closer to finishing undefeated in region games in its first year since moving from 5A to 4A.
The switch meant the Lady Falcons would not have to play against Buford — which had been a thorn in their side at the higher classification. It also meant quite a bit more work for Newton-Gonzalez in terms of game preparation.
“I think anytime you move classifications, it’s different,” she said. “You’re seeing teams that you haven’t played before. For us, we take pride in scouting and looking at teams and figuring out what they do. So that process obviously as a little bit longer because we hadn’t seen some of these teams. We had to watch some more film.”
Film study shouldn’t be as much as an issue for tonight’s game, as it will be the second time Flowery Branch and Marist have met in less than a week. The Lady Falcons claimed a 64-48 victory over the Lady War Eagles on the road last Saturday.
Scott said the offensive capability of every member of the team was Flowery Branch’s biggest advantage in the first meeting between the schools.
“All our players can score,” she said. “I think that’s our biggest strength as a team. It’s not all on one or two people. Anyone on the court is a threat to score at any time.”
A win for the Lady Falcons would obviously play a huge role in defining the legacy of Flowery Branch’s senior class. After all, 100 career wins would put the group in rare air.
But for now, the team is focusing more on finishing the regular season strong and then moving on to playoffs. Reflection on the seniors’ four-year achievements will come later.
“They know that their season’s not over,” Newton-Gonzalez said. “We still have a lot of basketball left to play.