FLOWERY BRANCH — Jacy Ramey likes where the Flowery Branch girls are.
A year after hovering near the bottom of Region 8-AAAA North, the Lady Falcons held on to their top spot in the subregion with a 46-42 win Tuesday over Madison County in South Hall.
“This is a lot better,” Ramey, a junior guard said. “We’ve come together as a team and that’s helped a lot.”
Flowery Branch (14-7, 5-1) has won nine of its past 10 games, its only loss coming to Clarke Central, the same team that beat the Lady Falcons in the region tournament last season during Flowery Branch’s surprising run through the tournament.
The Lady Falcons defeated Madison County (12-8, 3-3) to reach the region championship game last season.
It’s safe to say that the team adjusted to being a frontrunner, instead of a surprise contender, this season.
“I think we’ve played really well since the break,” said Flowery Branch coach Hazel Hall, who has been sick and allowed assistant coach Kim Satterfield to lead the team through the close win. “I’m glad that they came back and took control, because we were playing flat for a while there.”
Trailing for much of the second half and by as much as 10 points, the home team came all the way back to tie the game at 38-38 on a pair of free throws by Ramey, who finished with 13 points.
Madison County’s Lee-Lee Sorrells (seven points) and Flowery Branch’s Tavia Sykes (seven points) traded jumpers to even the score at 40, and then Flowery Branch’s Marissa Ivey (13 points) sank a 3-pointer with under two minutes to take a 43-42 lead, and answering a Madison County layup.
It was Ramey’s duty to hold the lead, and she made three of her final four free throws to seal the win. Her last point, after a steal in the final seconds, put the Lady Falcons ahead by four with three seconds remaining.
“Jacy’s going to do whatever she has to do to help us win,” Hall said, referencing the fact that she’s averaging nearly 10 rebounds per game this season.
Tuesday night she had 11 boards against a team with a decided height advantage, to go along with three steals and three assists.
“They definitely had size on us,” Ramey said. “But my goal is to outjump the person that’s challenging me.”
The Lady Falcons were up to the challenge, and now maintain a one-game lead in the subregion race as a result of Habersham Central’s loss to Clarke Central on Tuesday.
“We’ve got to finish it up,” Hall said. “But we feel pretty good.”
Madison County’s Molly Glaze led all scorers with 14 points, and forward Nekeia Brown added 12.
The first quarter was back and forth. Neither team scored two field goals in a row, and Flowery Branch took an 8-6 advantage into the second quarter.
The second proceeded the opposite of the first. Marissa Ivey finished a 7-2 run to open the second period with a 3-pointer to put the Lady Falcons ahead 15-8.
Madison County responded with an 11-2 run to retake the lead, and then the teams traded baskets, with Ramey scoring the last of her six points in the half on a layup to get Flowery Branch within three at 24-21.
Molly Glaze led the Lady Raiders in the first half with 10 points.
For both teams the match-up signified the first game of the second half of the subregion schedule. Flowery Branch went 4-1 in the first loop, including a 42-40 win at Madison County and a 51-41 victory over Habersham Central to lead 8-AAAA North by virtue of the head-to-head matchup with the Lady Raiders, also 4-1 in the subregion.
Flowery Branch visits Apalachee at 7 p.m. Friday. The Lady Falcons held off the Lady Cats (0-5 8-AAAA) 52-47 in Flowery Branch the first meeting.
Madison County hosts Clarke Central at 7 p.m. Friday in Danielsville.
FLOWERY BRANCH 66, MADISON COUNTY BOYS 52: Tyler McBroom scored a team-high 22 points, including five 3-pointers, and the Falcons moved into a tie for first place in Region 8-AAAA North by knocking off the Red Raiders on Tuesday in Flowery Branch.
Madison County, which owned sole possession of first place prior to the game, will now be sharing the top spot by virtue of the two teams splitting a pair of games this season.
Flowery Branch (11-10, 4-2) lost 64-54 to Madison County earlier in the season, but back home the Falcons finally broke through the Madison County press, forcing the Raiders to abandon the defensive strategy the had worked so well before.
“We broke their press, and that was the difference in the game,” Flowery Branch coach Duke Mullis said. “We came out with a lot of confidence.”
The Falcons, who got 14 points from Drew Miles, 13 from Jaleel Bailey and 10 from Jamaad Stephens, took the early lead and simply built on throughout most of the game.
“We knew they’d make a run,” Mullis said. “But we steadily won that game every quarter.”
Trae Burton, who led all scorers with 23 points, mounted a Madison County comeback in the second half, getting the Red Raiders to within one at 39-38 on a layup to end the third quarter.
McBroom hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the fourth to give the hosts breathing room and an advantage that they would not give up.