FLOWERY BRANCH — Having suffered a heartbreaking loss just three days earlier, it was important that the Flowery Branch girls basketball team was back on its feet by the next game, especially in front of a home crowd for the last time in the regular season.
The Lady Falcons took care of business as planned. They wrapped up their home schedule with a 64-39 win over Heritage on Tuesday in Flowery Branch.
The win was a crucial one for Flowery Branch (22-2, 12-0 Region 8-AAAAA), as it clinched the No. 1 seed for the Lady Falcons in next week’s region tournament at Apalachee High. In the first round, Flowery Branch faces the winner of play-in game between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds.
It also assured that Flowery Branch hasn’t lost their winning mentality following Saturday’s 53-51 loss against East Hall, which was won by the Lady Vikings on a last-second buzzer-beater. The loss snapped the Lady Falcons’ 10-game winning streak.
“We needed a wake-up call again, because we were getting a little bit too big for our britches, so to speak,” Flowery Branch coach Hazel Hall said. “We needed somebody to come out and get after us, to show us that if we don’t come out playing well and doing what we need to do, we’re going to struggle.”
The Lady Falcons wrap up the regular season at 6 p.m. tonight against Cedar Shoals, the No. 2 seed for the Region 8-AAAAA tournament. At 20-2, the Jaguars offer a tough challenge for Flowery Branch less than a week before the tournament begins.
The game was originally scheduled for Jan. 25, but was postponed due to a threat of inclement weather. Hall said the back-to-back games could be a hindrance to her players.
“Part of our problem the last couple of weeks is that we haven’t been able to stay in our routine,” Hall said. “We are very much creatures of habit. It’s just been a little bit out of whack.”
Flowery Branch led 30-15 at halftime, holding Heritage (10-14, 7-8) to just seven points in the first quarter and eight in the second. Tavia Sykes led the Lady Falcons’ offense in the first half, where she scored 10 of her 13 points. She tallied the final five points of the second quarter, all from the free-throw line.
Sykes was one of three Flowery Branch players in double figures, alongside Breanna Locke (13 points) and Heather Moore (11 points). Moore hit three 3-pointers to lead the Lady Falcons from long range.
Heritage’s most productive quarter was the third, but the Lady Patriots were still outscored 17-14. They enjoyed 9-0 run midway through the quarter, six of the points coming on baskets by leading scorer Aujana Dawkins.
Dawkins was the game’s leading scorer, sinking eight from the field and finishing the game with 18. Che’ Hardaway also reached double figures for Heritage with 12 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Flowery Branch outscored the Lady Patriots 17-10 in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
FLOWERY BRANCH BOYS 48, HERITAGE 44: Jaleel Bailey hit a 3-pointer with 1:11 left in the game to complete a late rally and pick up the region win for the Falcons.
Flowery Branch (8-16, 5-10 Region 8-AAAAA) trailed Heritage 40-33 in the fourth quarter before battling back to tie the game at 42 apiece on a two-pointer by Bailey with 2:54 left to play. Nick Wayne led the rally with a pair of 3-pointers.
The Falcons held the Patriots (9-15, 3-12) scoreless in the final 1:28 of play. They outscored Heritage 29-18 in the second half after trailing 26-19 at halftime.
Jamaad Stephens led Flowery Branch with 13 points. Bailey, who was used sparingly in Friday’s loss to Gainesville after picking up four fouls in the first quarter, bounced back to score 11.
Heritage was led by Eric McIver, who scored 13 points and was the only Patriot in double figures. Heritage has lost 10 straight games and has not won since Dec. 29. Its current skid began with a loss to the Falcons.
Flowery Branch visits Cedar Shoals for its regular season finale at 7:30 p.m. tonight.