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Gainesville girls knock off Flowery Branch
Lady Elephants will play East Hall for region title
Gainesville High’s Jaymee Carnes, right, bounces between Flowery Barnch High’s Tavia Sykes, left, and Cashmere Champion during the first half of Monday night’s Region 7-AAA tournament game at the Flowery Branch High gymnasium.
FLOWERY BRANCH — Halftime adjustments can make or break a team.

In the case of the Gainesville girls in the Region 7-AAA tournament semifinals Monday night, the changes made at halftime did the former.

With the score tied 19-19 at the break, the Lady Red Elephants (14-9) held Flowery Branch to just two field goals in the second half, none in the fourth quarter, on their way to a 44-29 win.

With the win, Gainesville advances to the region championship game where it will play East Hall, which beat Creekview 58-27 earlier Monday, at 7 tonight.

“They were controlling the boards in the first half because of their speed,” Gainesville coach Manson Hill said. “We were rushing things, so we talked about slowing down and running our offense.

“Our girls were patient in the second half and did a great job.”

Flowery Branch (15-10) jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first quarter on a run that was capped by five straight points from Jessica Harper.

Harper finished as the team’s leading scorer with nine points. Cash Champion and Cara Chilton each scored six for the Lady Falcons.

Led by Jaymee Carnes, who scored eight of Gainesville’s first 13 points, the Lady Red Elephants came back and took their first lead with just under two minutes to go in the half on a 3-pointer by Loren Thomas.

“(After halftime) we wanted to make sure that we knew where Jessica (Harper) was,” Hill said. “We also wanted to make them take outside shots.

“We’ve been playing good defense and tonight was no exception.”

While Gainesville’s defensive effort clearly ramped after halftime — Harper only scored two points in the second half — the Lady
Red Elephants’ offense began clicking too, and Carnes was the catalyst.

The Wake Forest signee had Gainesville’s first six points of the second half as the team took a 25-21 lead.
Carnes finished with a game-high 26 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks — including five in the first quarter.

“She’s got a minor injury like most of our players do this time of year,” Hill said. “But she’s a warrior and there’s a reason I said she was one of the best ever in Hall County.

“She defends, she blocks shots, she can drive, she can score inside and out, she can bring the ball up the floor — she was just great tonight.”

The Lady Red Elephants extended that lead, and their second-half run, when Rebecca Webster hit Mikalyn DeFoor for a 3-pointer.

With Flowery Branch not hitting shots — the Lady Falcons shot eight percent from the field in the second half — Gainesville rolled.

The Lady Red Elephants held a six-point lead after the third quarter and extended it to fifteen by game’s end.

“Mikalyn, Loren, and Jaymee did a great job of handling (Flowery Branch’s) pressure tonight,” Hill said. “And that’s going to go a long way to helping us (against East Hall tonight) because we’ve got to take care of the ball.”

Flowery Branch plays Creekview in the region tournament’s third-place game at 4 p.m. today at Flowery Branch High.
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