Maddie Hetzel didn’t sound too enthused about today’s practice, but the Flowery Branch senior understands just how important it may be for her team.
The Lady Falcons earned a 56-41 victory over Winder-Barrow Friday night in Winder, but were less than impressive from the charity stripe, converting just 13 of 24 chances.
“Every time we don’t make 80 percent of them, we have to make 100 free throws at practice,” said Hetzel (VIDEO INTERVIEW HERE). “But it makes sense. We need to get to work on that.”
Hetzel, a University of North Georgia signee, led all scorers with 16 points to push the Lady Falcons (21-1, 11-1 Region 8-AAAAA) to their fifth straight win. Flowery Branch is still in the thick of the race for the No. 1 seed in 8-AAAAA North sub-region after pulling off a road win on Tuesday over co-leaders Gainesville.
The Lady Falcons executed a 16-2 run midway through the second quarter to pull away from their hosts, and led by as much as 22 with seven minutes left in fourth quarter.
Sophomore Olivia Nelson-Ododa spurred Winder-Barrow with 13 points, but was kept short of her potential, thanks to dedicated defending from Julianne Sutton. Nelson-Ododa previously scored 26 points for the Lady Bulldoggs when the two teams last met earlier this month in Flowery Branch.
Taniyah Worth also paced the Falcons with 13 points, many of which came through the paint, while sharpshooter Lexie Sengkhammee picked up 10 points, including the first five just before Flowery Branch’s dominant run before halftime.
“It’s a great region win against a great region opponent,” said Newton. “Still, I wasn’t happy with the way we finished out the end there. We had shot 77 percent from the line against Gainesville, but we took a step backward today.”
With the win, Flowery Branch pulled off the home-and-home double against the Lady Bulldoggs (17-4, 8-4), who currently sit in third place in the sub-region. While Winder-Barrow was just as poor from the foul line (9-of-26), Lady Bulldogs coach Brandon Thomas said his team needed to cut out unnecessary turnovers.
Latrice Perkins added 11 points for Winder-Barrow, while Lexi Maddox and Chellia Watson both had five points apiece.
Flowery Branch also created an 11-2 run to close the third quarter, pushing the advantage to double digits for the rest of the contest.
“When they’re not turning the ball over as much as we were, that’s how you can get that 15-point spread,” said Thomas. “They did a very good job, had a nice strategy for how to deal with (Nelson-Ododa) and it’s good Region 8 basketball, they were better than us on the night.”
NOTES: In her first year as the Lady Falcons’ head coach, Courtney Newton has already helped Flowery Branch equal the amount of wins Flowery Branch had all last season (21), with three regular season games and the region tournament still to play.
Flowery Branch is now 17-0 this season in games played outside of Flowery Branch.
NEXT UP: Flowery Branch next hosts Discovery (Tuesday), Lanier (Friday) and Apalachee (Feb. 6) to finish out the regular season.
Winder-Barrow next travels to play Apalachee (Jan. 30) and Lanier (Feb. 2) before finishing off the regular season at home against Gainesville.
FLOWERY BRANCH BOYS 66, WINDER BARROW 56: The Falcons bent, but didn’t break in Friday’s region win in Winder.
The Bulldoggs cut Flowery Branch’s lead to 55-53 with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons picked up key buckets from Gabe Holston and Brannon Clark to pull away for the victory.
Flowery Branch (13-9, 4-8 Region 8-AAAAA) broke a two-game skid with the victory.
John Mills led the Falcons with 15 points, Esteban Ortiz had 12 points and Holston collected 14 points. Clark nailed a 3-pointer with less than two minutes to go that spurred a late run.
Terence Butler led all scorers with 19 points for Winder-Barrow (2-19, 3-10), while Brandon Hayes (12 points) and CeCe Green (11 points) also reached double digits.
Flowery Branch led by six at the end of the first quarter and at halftime.