Holiday greetings from abroadFor The Times
FLOWERY BRANCH — If football is a game of inches, basketball is a game of seconds, and the Flowery Branch boys needed all 1,920 in the game to pull out its 70-68 win over Gainesville on Tuesday night at Flowery Branch High.
With 13.2 seconds left in the game, Gainesville’s Nick Johnson secured his seventh offensive rebound of the game and scored on the putback to put his team ahead by one at 68-67.
Ten seconds later, after a timeout and off a pass from Ishmael Hollis, Falcons’ senior point guard Rashad Tate hit a nothing-but-net 3-pointer for the win.
"It was actually a bad play on my part," Tate said. "I threw Ish(mael Hollis) a pass that was almost out of bounds, so it was a good play on him to save it."
"At the point guard, we like for (Tate) to draw and kick," Flowery Branch coach Duke Mullis said. "There was nobody to draw, everybody was like glue on our main weapons.
"I thought he just made a good decision of when to shoot. I was really happy to see him come through like that, what a great shot."
In a game of runs, neither Gainesville (4-7, 0-1 Region 7B-AAA) nor Flowery Branch (6-6, 1-0) was able to hold a lead for long.
When the Falcons went up five in the first quarter, the Red Elephants came stomping back to pull within two at the start of the second.
When Gainesville went on a 12-2 run to start the second, capped by a Juwon Jeffries steal and assist to Blake Sims for his 10th and 11th points of the run, Flowery Branch came right back to take a one-point lead into the half.
Sims finished as the game’s leading scorer with 24 points.
The back-and-forth nature of the game was even evident on the stat sheet.
The Red Elephants outrebounded the Falcons 24-14 in the first half, while Flowery Branch held a 21-9 advantage on the boards in the second.
"(Rebounding) is something we have not done a good job of all year," Mullis said. "I challenged them at halftime and said the difference would be if we could limit them to one shot, and we did a much better job, especially down the stretch."
While the Falcons did follow their coach’s orders when it came to limiting Gainesville’s second shots (the Red Elephants had 12 first half offensive rebounds and four in the second half), they also capitalized on another aspect of the game — free throws.
The Red Elephants played aggressively on the defensive end, to the tune of the 41 free throw attempts by the Falcons.
In the final two quarters, Flowery Branch capitalized by hitting 14-of-19 free throws, including 10 of 13 in the fourth quarter.
"It’s something we work on," Mullis said. "It’s kind of hard to simulate those pressure situations, but those small plays add up and I was proud of our guys for coming up with big plays when they had to."
The fourth quarter began with Gainesville up one, and the Red Elephants extended that lead to three on a Nick Johnson layup.
The Falcons responded by going up four on a 7-0 run which was capped by a Phillips Chau short jumper.
Gainesville came right back, however, tying it at 58 on a steal and assist by Sims to George Manomano for a finger roll.
Manomano finished with 14 points.
After three straight made free throws by Flowery Branch made it 61-58, Sims hit a 3-pointer to tie it.
On Gainesville’s next possession, after Chau hit two more free throws, Ty Redmon hit his first field goal of the game to give Gainesville a one-point lead at 64-63.
Flowery Branch’s ensuing possession resulted in a Josh Barrett layup and Hollis followed that up with an offensive rebound and putback.
Barrett finished with 17 points, Hollis as the team’s leading scorer with 21 points and nine rebounds.
Sims pulled Gainesville back within one with 38 seconds remaining on a double-pump layup and the rest is history.
"Our season started tonight," Mullis said. "We’ve had a really tough schedule but this was the first game that counts toward anything and we’re 1-0."
"This is a big confidence boost for us going into the next games," Tate added. Johnson finished with 14 points for Gainesville.
Brian Welchel had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Flowery Branch and Kyle Smith added 11 points and nine rebounds.
Flowery Branch returns to action at 8:30 p.m. Friday at East Hall while Gainesville next plays host to West Forsyth at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Gainesville girls 32,
Flowery Branch 22
The Class AAA No. 9-ranked Lady Red Elephants outscored Flowery Branch 15-6 in the second half to get the win Tuesday night at Flowery Branch.
Jaymee Carnes led Gainesville (7-6, Region 7B-AAA 1-0) with 13 points, Kela Griffin added eight.
Flowery Branch (3-9, 0-1) was led by Jessica Harper, who had a game-high 16 points including three 3-pointers.