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High school basketball: Flowery Branch girls team cruises to Region 7-4A tournament semifinal win over Chestatee
Ashley Woodroffe led all scorers with 28 points
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Flowery Branch's Ashley Woodroffe dribbles the ball down court with Chestatee's Maggie McNair, left, and Nicole Sedwick defending at Chestatee High School on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele

It was a familiar formula for the Flowery Branch girls basketball team Thursday night in its Region 7-4A tournament semifinal game against Chestatee. Senior guards Ashley Woodroffe and Caroline Wysocki combined for 50 points and the Lady Falcons rode a hot start to an easy 80-39 victory over the Lady War Eagles.

The win is the team’s 15th straight, and sets up Flowery Branch with an opportunity to take the region title in its first season after moving from 5A to 4A. 

“Our leaders have been able to keep our team playing at a high level and have done a good job,” Lady Falcons coach Courtney Newton-Gonzalez said. “I told them before the game, ‘It’s tournament time. Anybody can beat anybody and we’ve got to bring our best game.’ I thought we did tonight.”

Woodroffe led all scorers with 28 points, doing much of her damage in the game’s opening minutes. She drilled a corner 3-pointer on her first shot of the night, barely more than five seconds into the game. She hit another trey from the same corner less than a minute later, and converted a traditional 3-point play a minute after that to get Flowery Branch out to an early 9-2 lead. 

The Lady Falcons pushed that lead to 18-2 by the midpoint of the opening frame, scoring on nearly every possession and forcing several turnovers thanks to relentless halfcourt defense. Quick starts have become a trademark of Flowery Branch’s dominant run this season, and Thursday’s game was no different. 

“That’s them being focused before the tip and not waiting for the game to necessarily get going,” Newton-Gonzalez said. “They’re focused right when they step out there.”

After Woodroffe put on a show to start the game, Wysocki took over to close out the opening quarter. 

In the final two minutes, she dished a pair of assists to Ashlee Locke in the post and scored on a fast break following a steal. Her layup with 20 seconds to go in the first period finished off a 10-0 run for the Lady Falcons that put them up 30-10 eight minutes in. 

Flowery Branch slowed down a bit to start off the second quarter, but kept up the heat defensively, preventing any possibility of a Lady War Eagle comeback. As the opening half wound down, Woodroffe and Wysocki caught fire again, combining for 11 points in the final three minutes to take a 49-21 lead at halftime. 

A 10-0 run from the Lady Falcons to start the third quarter put the top seed up by nearly 40 points, and reserves from both sides came in to finish the game off. 

“Kids have been stepping in there and just continuing to get more confidence and continuing to play well,” Newton-Gonzalez said. “We know we’ve got to stay focused and bring that each night.”

The win sets up Flowery Branch with a Saturday night game against Marist that will decide the Region 7-4A tournament. Game time is 6 p.m. at Chestatee.  

And while the Lady Falcons certainly won’t be looking past their upcoming opponent, Woodroffe said their aspirations this year go far beyond the region crown.

“We have to do well every game, because if we don’t, and we lose, we go home,” Woodroffe said. “That’s not what we want. Every team wants a ring, a state championship. That’s what we’re aiming for.” 

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