FLOWERY BRANCH — Pressure defense plus patient offense equalled a 57-44 West Hall win against Flowery Branch on Tuesday night at Flowery Branch High.
Trailing by one point with five minutes to play in the game, Jarquise Young and Rodney Gibson came up with back-to-back steals which resulted in layups on the offensive end to give their team a three-point lead.
With the lead and the knowledge that his leading scorer Kavon Williams had four fouls, West Hall (15-3, 1-2 Region 7B-AAA) coach Warren Sellers told his players to stall offensively in an effort to minimize
Flowery Branch’s offensive possessions and shorten the game.
His plan worked to perfection.
The Spartans didn’t have a turnover in more than four minutes of play and, with Flowery Branch (7-8, 1-2) being forced to foul, were more than efficient from the free-throw line going 12-of-14 to outscore the Falcons 20-8 in the final period.
The victory was the first in subregion play for Class AAA’s sixth-ranked Spartans.
“We needed this, this was huge for us,” West Hall coach Warren Sellers said. “Our side of the region is tough. It’s great from a fan’s point of view but there’s no telling what’s going to happen.
“Any team can beat any team on any night.”
Flowery Branch went on a 7-2 run to open the game and grab an early lead.
West Hall responded with a 14-4 run of its own, capped by a Rodney Gibson 3-pointer at the buzzer to take a five-point lead into the second.
While the timely made 3-pointer was Gibson’s only field goal of the night, the senior did his part in the victory with six assists, three steals, three rebounds and a blocked shot.
“We preach that if you don’t score, you can help someone else who can and Gibson did a great job of that tonight,” Sellers said.
Executing with the clock winding down, as they did at the end of the first quarter, was a trademark of the Spartans for the game and provided momentum.
With 26 seconds remaining in the half and the Spartans up only one after Flowery Branch’s Josh Barrett hit a 3-pointer, West Hall pulled its first offensive stall of the night, this one resulting in a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Williams.
Williams finished the game with 13 points.
The Falcons went on an 11-0 run to take a three-point lead in the third quarter sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers by Phillips Chau and capped by a Brian Welchel free throw.
The Spartans once again executed an efficient offensive game plan and managed to take a one-point lead at the end of the third quarter on a Kyle Weatherly fadeaway bank shot at the buzzer.
Weatherly finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
The momentum gained with Weatherly’s shot carried the Spartans throughout the lopsided fourth quarter.
But so did the play of sophomore reserve point guard Young who, in the place of injured senior Terrell Penland, handled the ball and the team during the game-ending offensive stall.
“He was huge,” Sellers said. “He really grew up tonight and stepped up and saved us.”
Young finished as the team’s leading scorer with 14 points including going 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
Shunquez Stephens added 11 points for West Hall.
The Falcons were led by Ishmael Hollis with 13 points, including six in the fourth quarter, and Barrett with 10.
The Spartans return to action at 8:30 p.m. Friday when they play host to Gainesville. Flowery Branch next plays host to Johnson at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
West Hall girls 46, Flowery Branch 36
Jayla Moon led the Lady Spartans with 25 points and 12 rebounds in their win Tuesday night at Flowery Branch.
“I’m so proud of Jayla (Moon),” West Hall coach Lynn Jarrett said. “She played with a sense of urgency and really stepped it up for us.”
Facing a three-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter thanks to a rebound and putback by the
Falcons’ Jessica Harper, West Hall outscored Flowery Branch 15-2 in the final period to get the win.
The quarter-long run was sparked by the play Latesha Millsap whose made shot and free throw after a
Flowery Branch foul, and assist to Moon on the Lady Spartans’ ensuing possession gave West Hall a
lead it would not relinquish.
“Flowery Branch is a good team,” Jarrett said, “but we just had that look in our eye tonight.
“I’m also really proud of the play of (point guard) Emily Hammond. She was steady for us and did exactly what we needed, didn’t try to force anything.”
Flowery Branch was led by Harper with 12 points and Cashmere Champion with 11.
West Hall next plays host to Gainesville at 7 p.m. Friday while Flowery Branch returns to action at 7 p.m. Friday when it plays host to Johnson.