FLOWERY BRANCH — Duke Mullis didn’t hide his frustration after his Flowery Branch boys dropped a 44-42 subregion contest against Winder-Barrow on Tuesday in Flowery Branch.
Too many unforced turnovers, particularly in the final three minutes of the game were the key to the Falcons (8-15, 3-5 Region 8A-AAAA) dropping a golden opportunity to gain ground in the subregion with the region tournament next week.
“We did not protect and value each possession like we should have,” Mullis said. “I was disappointed in the way we played and our focus.”
In the girls game, Kayla Robles scored a game-high 12 points and the Lady Falcons (7-16, 2-6) pulled away for a 39-19 victory.
Winder-Barrow’s boys did their part to secure the win with great free throw shooting down the stretch and hit 13 of 15 attempts for the game.
The Bulldoggs’ two biggest free throws of the night came with 18 seconds left when Jamais Davis hit both shots after being fouled on the inbound to take a 43-39 lead.
Having a two-possession lead was critical for Winder-Barrow (10-13, 6-3) since Flowery Branch’s James Hodges (eight points) followed with a quick 3-pointer.
Again, Winder-Barrow was fouled immediately when it took possession, this time with only 8 seconds left to play and Travis DeMerritte hit one of his free throws to make the final score of 44-42.
With the loss, Flowery Branch dropped all three games against Winder-Barrow during the regular season, and visit Apalachee on Friday and host Habersham Central on Saturday to round out the regular season. The Bulldoggs now look to have the inside track to the No. 2 seed from the subregion and a first-round bye in the region tournament.
The highest Flowery Branch could finish now in the subregion is fourth. Habersham Central is currently holding the No. 4 spot with a 5-4 subregion record.
“Losing this one was huge,” said Flowery Branch’s Rudy DeAza, who finished with 11 points, five assists and three steals. “We just let it slip away.
“We know these next two are going to be real important.”
Flowery Branch’s biggest lead was 35-28 with 7:30 left in the game when DeAza scored off a steal and drive to the basket for an easy layup. However, three Falcons turnovers led to six points by the Bulldoggs over the next three minutes.
Winder-Barrow took its first lead of the second half with 1:55 left to play when Davis scored off a turnover and hit an ensuing foul shot to give it a 39-38 lead. After a DeAza free throw for Flowery Branch to tie the score at 39, the Bulldoggs countered to take a two-point lead with a basket from D.J. Jackson.
The Falcons built their lead in the third quarter behind aggressive rebounding. One of their biggest baskets in the third period came when Jason Woodroff pulled down the rebound, put it back in, then sank a free throw afterward for a 3-point play.
Flowery Branch only hit 5 of 12 free throws on the night. The Falcons visit Apalachee (1-19, 0-7) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Bethlehem.
FLOWERY BRANCH GIRLS 39, WINDER-BARROW 19: Robles scored 10 points in the opening half, and the Lady Falcons scored six points in the span of one minute in the third quarter to build their biggest lead of the night at 28 en route to victory.
Tavia Sykes scored 11, Cara Chilton had eight points and 10 rebounds for Flowery Branch. The Lady Falcons visit Apalachee at 6 p.m. on Friday in Bethlehem.