Flowery Branch coach Courtney Newton-Gonzalez couldn’t think of many other times star forward Taniyah Worth had as tough a night as she had against Loganville.
The Lady Falcons won anyway.
Despite a sluggish offensive performance from start to finish, top-ranked Flowery Branch managed to fend off the Lady Devils 45-36 at home in a Region 8-AAAAA game Tuesday night. Worth made just two buckets in a six-point performance, well below what she has averaged as the Falcons’ scoring leader.
“We had some girls step up because she had a pretty bad offensive night, one of the worst that I’ve seen from her over the last few years. But that happens,” Newton-Gonzalez said. “Taniyah’s not going to always have 18 a night. She’s going to have off nights and get in foul trouble, so it was good to see other kids step up.”
Julianne Sutton was one of them, racking up a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Queen Scott matched Sutton as the game’s leading scorer while also providing four boards and a steal.
“Taniyah had a tough game,” Sutton said. “She played well, but we depend on her a lot. We had to have some other people like Queen Scott step up and make some baskets for us.”
Worth’s off night resulted in a slow start for Flowery Branch (9-1, 3-0 region), an abnormality Sutton said had a lingering effect throughout the game
Tuesday night was the lowest offensive output of the season for the Lady Falcons, who entered the contest averaging 68.4 points per game. Newton-Gonzalez pointed to a lack of focus and said her team “wasn’t ready to play.”
“We kind of got off to a slow start to the beginning and didn’t score as fast as we usually do,” Sutton said. “We usually start off pretty strong. When we start off kind of slow, it’s harder to get into the groove.”
That was the case for both teams in the first quarter, which ended with Flowery Branch ahead just 7-4. The Lady Falcons missed their first five shots, while Loganville (4-6, 1-2) turned the ball over on each of its first four possessions.
A visibly frustrated Newton-Gonzalez called timeout and delivered an emphatic message to her team.
“We just needed energy,” she said. “Last week we played two games and won big. So coming into a game like tonight where we knew it was going to be a big game, I thought I needed to say something about our energy and intensity.”
Lexie Sengkhamme registered the first points of the game by nailing a 3-pointer out of the timeout.
The Lady Devils found a bit of rhythm in the second quarter, taking 11 trips to the free throw line. But Scott scored nine of her 13 points in the period to put Flowery Branch ahead 20-16 at halftime.
Sutton scored the first five points of the second half before Worth, who still contributed nine rebounds, hit her first basket with less than three minutes to play in the third quarter. Scott sank two consecutive shots to give the Lady Falcons a 36-27 cushion with less than six minutes to play, and Loganville never got within seven points the rest of the way.
Imani Arnold was the only Lady Devil to score in double digits. She notched 13 points and 11 rebounds to pick up a double-double.
While Newton-Gonzalez was unhappy with her team’s offensive performance, she and Sutton were both fairly pleased with the team’s defensive effort. Flowery Branch consistently forced turnovers and held an opponent to less than 40 points for the fourth time this season.
But Newton-Gonzalez said the Lady Falcons can’t afford another off night — especially not with undefeated region foe and second-ranked Buford visiting at 7 p.m. Friday.
“If circumstances change, we lose that game,” the coach said. “We can’t take nights off like we did tonight in any type of game. Hopefully we’ll refocus and get ready for this big game on Friday.”
FLOWERY BRANCH BOYS 65, LOGANVILLE 63: Patsheko Lutumba hit the shot to put Flowery Branch ahead late and made the defensive play to keep it that way.
Lutumba blocked Akil Covington’s game-tying attempt in the waning seconds to lift the Falcons to a thrilling region win against Loganville. He had previously sunk a 3-pointer — part of his team-high 16 points — to reclaim the lead after
Flowery Branch (7-1, 2-1) let a potential blowout turn into a nail-biter.
The Red Devils (4-6, 0-3) trailed 50-36 midway through the third quarter before Covington and Julius Chamble sparked a huge rally. Loganville ended the period on an 18-4 run to tie the game at 54 apiece.
The fourth quarter was a low-scoring, back-and-forth affair. Lutumba’s 3-pointer put the Falcons ahead 61-60, but the Red Devils again tied the game at 63 with 25.8 seconds to play.
A loose-ball foul on Chamble sent Blake Coxworth to the charity stripe for a crucial 1-and-1 situation. He drained both free throws for the deciding points, and Lutumba came up with the game-sealing block on the other end.
Flowery Branch will face Buford at 8:30 p.m. Friday.