When Apalachee’s Kamar Baldwin got on a roll, he would not be denied.
The junior guard scored 13 of his game-high 31 points in the second quarter to help Apalachee (10-4, 4-2 Region 8-AAAAA) pull away to a 67-54 victory over Flowery Branch on Tuesday night. Baldwin, who holds offers from five different schools throughout the Southeast, converted six consecutive field goals before halftime to give the Wildcats a five-point lead at the break.
His two third-quarter 3-pointers would help Apalachee extend its lead to as much as 15 at one point and break Flowery Branch’s three-game win streak coming into the new year.
“That’s the reason people are interested,” said Flowery Branch coach David Sokol of Baldwin. “He doesn’t miss.”
Or at least, he turns his misses into opportunities. With three minutes remaining in the first half, Baldwin shanked an airball 3-point attempt before grabbing his own rebound, muscling past two Falcon defenders and ascending for a dunk to push an early Wildcat lead to 25-19 after a slow opening quarter.
The gutsy play provided the impetus needed for Baldwin to score on his next five shot attempts, turning himself into a one-man assault on Flowery Branch’s paint.
The Falcons (8-7, 2-4) battled bravely to minimize the junior’s hot streak, and would score three consecutive treys by Tyler Kriews (15 points), Hunter Konuszewski (5 points) and Taylor Bourdage (5 points) to stay within striking distance.
But Baldwin christened the second half with a step-back 3-pointer from the right wing that gave Apalachee its first significant lead of the night, and took the air out of a potential Falcons comeback.
Senior guard Kent Knowles chipped in 11 for the Wildcats.
“Even when he’s not scoring, he’s setting up people, he just does everything for us,” said Wildcats head coach Kevin Morris. “That’s just the kind of person he is. He’s very talented. We’re just glad he’s on our team.”
Despite getting into early foul trouble, Trey Bailey scored eight of his 14 points in the fourth as Flowery Branch fell further behind. But it was Baldwin’s crossover layup that opened up a 9-2 Wildcat run to put Apalachee up by 15 with 3:40 left in the game.
The junior has offers from George Mason, Charlotte, Richmond, Middle Tennessee State and Chattanooga.
“When the third quarter began like it did, that’s when they really separated from us,” Sokol said. “We tried to press them too much and it didn’t work out.”
Flowery Branch must now turn its attention to region-leading Gainesville (12-1, 4-0) for Friday’s tip at 8:30 p.m. in Gainesville. The Red Elephants have been in the midst of 10 days between games since their Lanierland title game loss to Johnson.
FLOWERY BRANCH GIRLS 70, APALACHEE 26: The Flowery Branch Lady Falcons scored 45 points in the first half at home against hapless Apalachee on Tuesday night to secure their sixth straight region win.
The one-sided victory puts Flowery Branch (13-2, 6-0 Region 8-AAAAA) a game ahead of second-place Salem (5-1 in region), which plays next on Friday against Cedar Shoals.
Nine different players scored at least a field goal in the rout, which saw Julianne Sutton lead the team with 13 points while Maddie Hetzel and Taniyah Worth both chipped in nine.
Heather Moore scored seven of Flowery Branch’s 24-point first quarter while holding Apalachee to just seven.
Kiara Hooks scored a game-high 15 points for the Lady Wildcats (2-12, 1-5).
Flowery Branch was up 45-14 at halftime and led by 17 after the first eight minutes.
The Lady Falcons will now turn their focus back to Gainesville. Flowery Branch will play a rematch of the Lanierland title game at Gainesville High on Friday at 7 p.m.
The Lady Red Elephants topped the Falcons 45-43 on Dec. 30 to win their second straight Lanierland championship.