Stopping the best player on the floor wasn’t an option for Flowery Branch coach Courtney Newton.
But she could at least cut off her supply lines. (VIDEO INTERVIEW HERE)
Newton pressed her team to push a heavy man defense against the teammates of Winder-Barrow’s Olivia Nelson-Ododa, limiting the Bulldoggs to just two field goals in the final four minutes of a 51-47 win Tuesday night in Region 8-AAAAA play.
“I knew we could play her one-on-one, and the girls locked in on that,” said Newton. “She’s going to get her points, but I thought we did well at guarding other players around her.”
Nelson-Ododa led all scorers with 26 points, but the Falcons (17-1, 7-1 in region) rode a 20-point second quarter to overtake and hold off the visitors.
Sophomore Taniyah Worth led the Lady Falcons with 18 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, Heather Moore scored 12 points and Maddie Hetzel had 10 points and three assists.
With the win, Flowery Branch wrestled control of second place in the region, behind Gainesville (12-3, 8-0). The Lady Red Elephants defeated the Lady Falcons last week to hand Flowery Branch its first loss of the season.
Moore, a senior, nailed four 3-pointers in the second quarter to help Flowery Branch jump out to a 15-2 run. The Lady Falcons would finish with eight treys, compared to Winder-Barrow’s one.
Worth said afterward that her team isn’t feeling any extra pressure heading into a packed region schedule. Flowery Branch has two big away matchups coming up, including trips to Discovery (Friday) and Lanier (Tuesday).
“We have to prepare for everything,” said Worth. “It’s the same amount of heat.”
Chellia Watson tacked on 13 points for the visitors, while Jakayla Sullivan had 11 points to keep Winder-Barrow (13-2, 6-2) competitive late in the final minutes.
Nelson-Ododa, a sophomore, sank eight of her 10 free throws, including two early in the fourth to cut Flowery Branch’s lead to 39-36. But three Lady Falcons combined for 12 points to answer a strong Bulldoggs charge while Flowery Branch held Nelson-Ododa and Watson to just one layup apiece down the stretch.
The Lady Falcons led 25-17 at halftime, but trailed 8-5 at the end of the first quarter. That’s when Hetzel and Moore combined for 12 straight points on four treys to open the second quarter.
“We had a lot of people step up,” said Newton, a first-year coach at Flowery Branch. “Queen Scott, Heather Moore with her threes in the first half, a lot of people stepped up and played their role.”
FLOWERY BRANCH BOYS 69, WINDER-BARROW 49: Brannon Clark led all scorers with 24 points, John Mills knocked home 16 points, and the Falcons secured their second Region 8-AAAAA win of the season.
The Falcons (11-7, 2-6) used a 15-2 spurt near the beginning of the second quarter to pull away and hold off the visiting Bulldoggs (1-14, 1-7), who are riding a 10-game losing skid.
Flowery Branch broke a 2-game skid with the win, and is now 3-4 on home court. The Falcons led by as many as 22 points.
Terence Butler led Winder-Barrow with 15 points and Brandon Hayes scored eight in the losing effort. The Bulldoggs cut the lead to nine with five minutes left, thanks to a 9-2 run to open the fourth quarter. However, the Falcons ended with a 24-point fourth to finish strong.
Flowery Branch senior Chris Gibbs suffered a head injury in the final minute of the fourth quarter when he fell and hit the back of his head following a layup attempt. He left the floor with the help of some assistant coaches some time later.
Flowery Branch coach David Sokol said he was not immediately sure of the status of Gibbs, but mentioned that the team would watch to see if he had suffered a concussion.
Flowery Branch next travels to Lawrenceville to play Discovery on Friday before visiting Lanier on Tuesday.
Winder-Barrow next tackles Lanier at home Friday before travelling to Madison County on Saturday.