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Prep basketball: Second-half spurt lifts Falcons over Gainesville
Flowery Branch High’s Molly May (14) drives on Gainesville High’s Kiki Thompson, right, during the second half of Tuesday night’s Red Elephant win at the Flowery Branch High gymnasium. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

FLOWERY BRANCH — A 16-1 run to start the third quarter, and 55-point second half, gave the Flowery Branch boys an 85-52 win over Region 7B-AAA rival Gainesville on Tuesday night at Flowery Branch High.

The Falcons (20-3, 9-0) led by only two points at halftime thanks to a resilient effort in the latter half of the second quarter by the Red Elephants (12-10, 5-4).

A dunk by Gainesville’s Nick Johnson with four minutes and 35 seconds to go in the second quarter and a Brock Boleman layup off an inbounds play on the Red Elephants’ ensuing possession brought Gainesville within one point of the Flowery Branch lead.

Two quick baskets pushed Flowery Branch’s lead back to five points, but a Gerald Ford drive and layup put Gainesville within two going into the break.

"Didn’t have to say anything (to the team at halftime)," Flowery Branch coach Todd Cottrell said. "We got outhustled in the first half and our guys take a lot of pride in that; they knew. So they just came out and tried to play a little harder and make some things happen."

The Falcons came out of the locker room ready to prove themselves and wasted no time in doing so.

Josh Barrett, who had only five points up to that point, took it upon himself to spark the Falcons to a 16-1 run to start the third quarter.

Barrett, who finished with 19 points, scored seven during the run.

It wasn’t until less than four minutes to go in the third quarter that Gainesville senior Allen Dockery broke the Falcons’ run with two free throws. But the damage to the Red Elephants’ early-game momentum had already been done.

Dockery finished with a team-high 14 points, Juwan Jeffries added 11 for Gainesville.

With a 17-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, Flowery Branch didn’t let up.

In fact, the already-crowned Region 7B-AAA champions Falcons, continued their offensive onslaught with avengeance.

"It’s time to get ready for the tournament,"
Cottrell said. "In this league you can’t afford not to be ready to play, and my guys are still hungry."

Flowery Branch scored 25 fourth-quarter points, sparked by three quick 3-pointers coming off the hands of Connor Shaw and Barrett.

Shaw finished the game with a season-high 19 points, including four 3-pointers, on 7-of-8 shooting.

"Connor played great, I’m real proud of him," Cottrell said. "He shot the ball well and played great defense and he’s going to have to do that for us for us to get where we want to go."

While the Falcons’ offensive prowess was impressive, holding Gainesville to 24 second-half points didn’t hurt their winning cause.

Gainesville returns to action at 8:30 p.m. Friday when it plays host to West Forsyth. Flowery Branch concludes its regular season at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Pickens.

Gainesville girls 59, Flowery Branch 30
Led by Hailey Solomon’s 14 points the Gainesville girls remained undefeated in Region 7B-AAA play with a win Tuesday night in Flowery Branch.

Fellow Gainesville inside players Jaymee Carnes added 12 points, four rebounds, three blocks and three steals for the Lady Red Elephants (19-5, 9-0).

Flowery Branch (8-13, 2-5) kept it to within two points for the better part of the first quarter until Gainesville coach Manson Hill put in a big lineup, went to a 2-2-1 zone press instead of man-to-man press, and in turn, helped his team start an 11-2 run to end the first quarter.

Mikelyn DeFoor led Gainesville during the run with five points.

The Lady Red Elephants went on to score 32 points in the next two quarters to take a 28-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Flowery Branch was led by Jessica Hart who finished with 12 points.

Gainesville next plays host to West Forsyth at 7 p.m. Friday while Flowery Branch plays at 7 p.m. Friday in Jasper against Pickens.

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