GAINESVILLE — Class AAA No. 5-ranked Flowery Branch got scoring contributions from 11 of its 16 roster players en route to an 84-77 win over Chestatee in the Jackson EMC Lanierland Basketball Tournament semifinals Friday night at East Hall High.
With the win Flowery Branch (6-0) moves into tonight’s Lanierland finals where they will face defending Lanierland champion, and Class AAA No. 6-ranked East Hall (3-1). In the teams’ previous matchup on Nov. 30, Flowery Branch came out with a 20-point win.
The Falcons led 25-20 after the first quarter of their semifinal game against Chestatee thanks to a 30-second span in which senior point guard Daniel Tosta and junior forward Brian Whelchel hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions.
The lead would have been greater at the end of the first period had it not been for the hot start of Chestatee senior shooting guard Parker Smith who finished the first quarter with 13 points including three 3-pointers.
The end result would have been greater also had it not been for the performance of Smith who led all scorers with 43 points.
In two Lanierland contests the War Eagles senior has hit for 90 points.
Chestatee pulled to within one point at 36-35 early in the second quarter on a 3-point basket by Branden Jovaag and took over the lead thanks to made free throws by Smith and Jo Jo Sweet. Jovaag finished the game with 11 points and Sweet added 10 for Chestatee.
Chestatee’s lead wouldn’t last long.On Flowery Branch’s first possession after Sweet’s free throws, junior shooting guard Josh Barrett hit his first of four 3-pointers and tied the contest at 39.
Barrett hit for 12 points in the contest, making him the Falcons’ second-leading scorer on the night.
The Falcons took a three-point lead into the half thanks to senior A.C. Bailey, who not only helped his team re-take the lead with a floater over the front of the rim, but also took a charge to give his team the ball back in the waning seconds of the half.
The half ended on a made layup by Flowery Branch junior Izaan Cross. Cross finished the game with a team-high 13 points. Bailey added 11.
Chestatee took a quick lead early in the second half at 44-43 thanks to baskets by Smith and Drew Cain, but Flowery Branch answered, hitting 3-pointers on its next two possessions to take a five-point lead.
The back-to-back 3-pointers sparked an 11-0 run capped by a 3-pointer by Connor Shaw. Flowery Branch ended the third quarter and began the fourth on a 12-2 run, capped again by a basket by Shaw, putting the game out of reach for the War Eagles.
Phillips Chau was the remaining double-digit scorer for the Falcons, scoring 10 points in the win.
The War Eagles, with the loss, will play Lakeview in the boys consolation game at 5:30 tonight at East Hall High.