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Flowery Branch shuts down Lanier, 58-44, earns No. 3 seed in 8-AAAAA region tournament
Falcons will tackle Winder-Barrow Monday in region playoffs
Lanier's Derrick Brown (32) waits for the rebound has his teammate Adrian Martin (4) is called for an offensive foul against Flowery Branch's Blake Coxworth (15) during Friday's game at Flowery Branch High School. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Garfield Woodroffe’s dogged defensive work to help stop Lanier on Friday night won’t show up in the stat sheets, but that won’t matter for the senior guard.

He’s just happy that Flowery Branch clinched the No. 3 seed with a 58-44 home victory that allows the Falcons (15-9, 6-9 Region 8-AAAAA) to host a region tournament game Monday evening.

Flowery Branch will play 8-AAAAA North rival Winder-Barrow at 7:30 p.m. for the right to progress to the 8-AAAAA quarterfinals. The winner of Monday’s matchup takes on the No. 2 seed in 8-AAAAA South.

“He was a big deal for us today,” said Falcons coach David Sokol. “He did a really good job of guarding their guy on the 3-ball today, and I’m really proud of his defensive effort.”

Woodroffe’s focus was on stopping Lanier’s Adrian Martin (16 points), who knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers from college-level distances in the second quarter to keep the Longhorns squarely in the contest by halftime.

The senior said he was able to effectively use his speed to force Martin into tougher shots, thus limiting his effectiveness.

It worked. Martin was held to just one field goal in the second half, and the Longhorns were called on seven offensive fouls in the final 14 minutes.

“Coach wanted me to help out on him, because he’s pretty quick,” said Woodroffe. “He told me from the beginning to get pressure on him. That he only got (three) on me, I’m fine with that.”

The Falcons used an 8-0 run at the end of the third quarter and a 10-2 streak to open the fourth to seal the win. Flowery Branch led by as many as 18 with 3:03 left in the contest.

Lanier’s Juwvon Jones netted a layup and a free throw that capped a late fightback and snipped the lead to 53-42, but the Longhorns were unable to get any closer.

Gabe Holston led the Falcons with 18 points, John Mills added 13 and Esteban Ortiz stepped up for 10 points.

For the Longhorns (9-16, 5-10), Tyler Taylor (8 points) and Jones (7 points) were the only other significant scorers outside of Martin.

Flowery Branch knocked down nine of its 11 free throws down the stretch to ice the victory. The Falcons led by just three at halftime before outscoring the Longhorns 33-22 in the final two quarters.

“We knew they were going to come out in zone and I told them that we have to make plays,” said Sokol. “Guys like Gabe, John, Garfield, they did just that.”

Flowery Branch finishes the regular season with a home game against Apalachee that will not affect the region seedings.

After that, Sokol said his team will practice on Sunday, after church but before the Super Bowl.

Flowery Branch has beaten Winder-Barrow twice this season, both times by double digits.

“It’s going to be a big game,” said Woodroffe. “We’ve got to executive in order to walk out with a W.”

FLOWERY BRANCH GIRLS 68, LANIER 23: The Lady Falcons took care of business Friday night, and that earned them the top spot in Region 8-AAAAA — for tonight.

Flowery Branch (23-1, 13-1 Region 8-AAAAA) sailed past the visiting Lady Longhorns at home on the same night that Gainesville slipped up on the road against Winder-Barrow.

Gainesville and Flowery Branch split their season series, both winning on each other’s home courts. The Lady Red Elephants fell 43-32 to the Lady Bulldoggs in Winder.

Had Gainesville and Flowery Branch both won out, the two teams would have decided the top seed in next week’s region tournament via a coin flip.

The Lady Falcons now have a chance to clinch the top seed with a win today at home against Apalachee. The tip is set for 1 p.m.

The Lady Falcons romped past Lanier (9-16, 7-8), especially in the second quarter when Flowery Branch outscored the Longhorns 19-4.

Julianne Sutton led all scorers with 17 points, Taniyah Worth cleaned up the boards to go along with a 14-point performance and Kierra Knight (12 points) knocked down four 3-pointers.

Bailey Bassette led Lanier with 9 points. The Lady Longhorns finished the regular season having lost four of their last five games.

Flowery Branch is now on a seven-game winning streak dating back to Jan. 8.

Under first-year coach Courtney Newton, Flowery Branch has already secured its best regular season in program history.

Both teams took part in an emotional start to the game when Flowery Branch seniors Alyssa Greene and Breanna Locke started, then combined for the opening layup.

Greene had suffered an ACL injury in Tuesday’s win over Discovery and was on crutches, while Locke has been recovering from a lingering eye injury since the Lanierland tournament in late December.

Greene was helped out to the basket by her teammates, Locke brought the ball up and Greene completed the score to a long applause by both sets of fans.

Locke is expected to officially return to action close to the start of the state tournament.

Lanier coach Oji Perkins had offered to allow the two to link up for the score, according to Newton.

“I have so much respect for him for that,” said Newton. “It really made her night. We had a bunch of crying girls to start this game, so it really meant a lot.

“We really have a family atmosphere here.”