CARROLLTON — The Flowery Branch girls have already made history. Now the Lady Falcons (24-6) are one of four programs left playing for a state championship in Class AAAAA.
On Tuesday, Taniyah Worth scored a game-high 19 points with 13 rebounds for Flowery Branch, which had a 19-point cushion after three quarters to lock up a 61-46 win against Carrollton in the state quarterfinals at Carrollton.
“I’m super proud of these girls,” Flowery Branch coach Courtney Newton-Gonzalez said. “They have worked hard to get to this moment.
“We had ups and downs through the season, but we fought through it.”
With the win, Flowery Branch will face Southwest Dekalb in the state semifinals at 2 p.m. Saturday at Columbus State University. On the other side of the bracket in Class AAAAA, Region 8-AAAAA champion Buford also still remains after its trouncing of Warner Robins.
Also in the quarterfinal win for Flowery Branch, Caroline Wysocki scored 11 points and Janoah Williams finished with 10.
With just three days before playing in the semifinal round, Newton-Gonzalez knows there is no time to sit back and admire her team’s accomplishments, quite yet.
“We just need to continue working hard in practice (today), we are going to the film room and study film,” Flowery Branch’s second-year coach said.
After going into the second quarter tied 13-13, Flowery Branch scored the first five points of the second period and closed on a 9-3 run to take a 31-23 lead into the locker room.
The top-seeded and third-ranked Lady Trojans (29-2) also endured early foul trouble for the second straight game, as four players had two fouls apiece by halftime, including the post trio of Kim McKinney, Elexus Bell and Erial Daniel.
Carrollton never could get out of its funk, committing three straight turnovers to open the second half and falling behind by 19 entering the fourth quarter after momentarily cutting the deficit to 13 midway through the quarter.
Flowery Branch, which is making its first state semifinal appearance in program history, put the game away in the fourth, building as big as a 24-point lead before the Lady Trojans finished on a 9-0 run for the final 15-point margin.
Carrollton head coach Shon Thomaston tipped his cap to Flowery Branch for outplaying his squad, noting that it was a tough way to close an otherwise tremendous season.
“A whole lot of credit to Flowery Branch,” Thomaston said. “They came in here and just like we knew they were a good team, they did what good teams do. They played well, they played within themselves and they deserved to win the game. I don’t want to take anything away from my kids. We played with a lot of effort, but we didn’t execute very well on either end.”
Taylor Brown led Carrollton with 17 points, followed by Bell with 11, Adasha Hendrix with six and Ansley Barge with five.
Offensively, Carrollton simply never could get in sync, as every glimpse of making a run quickly soured, keeping it at a double-digit deficit the entire second half. The only leads of the evening for the Lady Trojans came late in the first quarter at 11-9 and 13-11.
“It seemed like nothing went right. When we got a shot, we couldn’t get anything to go in. The free-throw line was hit or miss. Defensively, we got beat off the dribble time and time again,” Thomaston said. “A good team will expose it when you’re not doing things sound. Like I said, I’m not going to sit here and take anything away from my kids because they battled all year long. I wish I could have done something a little bit better to put them in a better position to have a better chance to get a different outcome. I didn’t do that as a coach, so I’ll take a whole lot of the blame for the way we performed.”