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Flowery Branch cruises past Apalachee in tourney opener
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WINDER — Tavia Sykes led the Flowery Branch girls with 14 points, while Marissa Ivey and Jacy Ramey tallied nine apiece in a 60-28 opening-round win over Apalachee in the Region 8-AAAAA Tournament on Tuesday at Apalachee High.

With the win, the Lady Falcons (23-3) have secured a state playoff berth and advance to the semifinals of the tournament to face the winner of today’s Salem-Heritage game at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Flowery Branch dressed only 10 players for Tuesday’s game, and eight of them scored.

Maddie Hetzel scored eight points and Breanna Locke grabbed 10 rebounds for Flowery Branch.

Jasmin Bell scored 11 points and Zalandria Hill added 10 points and nine rebounds for Apalachee.

Apalachee lost senior Ryan Burke, a presence inside for the Lady ‘Cats, with an ankle injury with 1:54 left in the first half and she did not return during the game.

Flowery Branch led 25-8 at the time of Burke’s injury.

“They really brought some intensity to the game,” said Apalachee coach Gary Compton, “and they are full of seniors.
“We cut the score to about 13 there late (at the end of the third quarter), but we don’t have a lot of depth. We only play about eight players.”

A basket by Hill, a freshman, made the score 35-22 with 8 seconds left in the third period and completed an 8-2 Apalachee run, but that was as close as the Lady Wildcats could get.

Bell’s two free throws gave Apalachee its only lead at 2-0 early in the game, but Flowery Branch responded with a 14-0 surge, including six points apiece by Sykes and Ivey, and went on to lead 16-4 at the first rest stop.

Baskets by Bronwynn Wade and Bell got the Lady Wildcats within 18-8 early in the second period, but the Lady Falcons scored nine unanswered points over the next 4:36 and took a 27-8 lead before Hill scored at the halftime buzzer to make the score 27-10 at intermission.

Although Flowery Branch took a trio of 19-point leads in the third period, the last at 35-16 with 2:37 left, the Lady Wildcats finished the quarter on a 6-0 tear to pull within 13, 35-22, going into the fourth quarter.

The final period was all Lady Falcons, who outscored their hosts 25-6 in the period and took their biggest lead of 32 points on a bucket by Kayla Tithof with 16.3 seconds.

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