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High school basketball: Flowery Branch girls fall to Jefferson in Region 8-4A tournament championship
Ashlee Locke and Shaina Kriews scored 13 points each in the defeat
Flowery Branch guard Shaina Kriews defends against Jefferson's Livi Blackstock on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021, during the Region 8-4A tournament championship at Flowery Branch High School. - photo by Nathan Berg

The Flowery Branch girls basketball played solid defense throughout Saturday’s Region 8-4A tournament championship against Jefferson, but the Lady Falcons could not overcome frequent offensive struggles and fell 42-33. Despite the defeat, Flowery Branch will still host a playoff game against McDonough as a No. 2 seed in the Class 4A tournament on either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. 

“I’m extremely proud of our girls,” Lady Falcons coach Courtney Newton-Gonzalez said after the game. “They fought their way to this region championship. Not many people thought that we could get here, and some people didn’t think we’d get to the state tournament. (The girls) believed in themselves. The good thing is our season isn’t over, and we’re one of only a few Hall County teams still playing, and we’re proud of that.”

Ashlee Locke and Shaina Kriews scored 13 points apiece for the Lady Falcons, who went through several long scoring droughts that doomed them in Saturday’s defeat. 

A pair of back-and-forth opening quarters had Flowery Branch up by 2 points at halftime, but shooting woes began to plague the Lady Falcons in the third frame. After briefly extending the lead to 4 points a couple minutes into the period, Flowery Branch was held off the scoreboard entirely for the final five minutes of the quarter and was forced to watch as the Lady Dragons pushed back in front. The Lady Falcons suffered another five-minute scoreless span through the middle of the fourth and never got fully back on track in the loss. 

“Extremely proud of our defensive effort, but we just didn’t hit enough shots in the second half and they did,” Newton-Gonzalez said. “I felt like we got some of the shots that we wanted. We just didn’t hit them.”

Following the game, Locke was named to the Region 8-4A all-tournament first team, while Kriews was selected for the all-tournament second team. 

Among other Hall County athletes, Emma Easterwood of Chestatee and Callie Dale of East Hall were also named to the tournament first team.

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