FLOWERY BRANCH — Flowery Branch coach Duke Mullis could sense his team had a new sense of confidence with Tuesday’s 53-43 win against West Forsyth in south Hall County. It washed away any sense of doubt from last week’s three losses in the Deep South Classic and gave a perfect boost as the Falcons (5-7) prepare to open Region 8A-AAAA play Friday at Madison County.
“When you lose like that, it starts to wear on you mentally,” Mullis said. “That was a great confidence boost for our guys in the locker room tonight.”
Coming off the bench, junior Jaleel Bailey rattled off seven straight points in a first-quarter run as the Falcons took an 18-8 lead into the second period. Nick Wayne also scored seven first quarter points for Flowery Branch as he finished with a team-high 13 points.
“That was just a great team effort tonight,” said Bailey, who also connected on a 3-pointer in the second quarter to finish with 10 points. “We needed that tonight to feel like we’re ready for the subregion.”
Chris Parisi led West (0-12) with 13 points, five rebounds and three steals, and Zack Evans had 10 points and four assists.
In the girls game, Flowery Branch’s Jacy Ramey and Dani Lacko each hit a pair of free throws in the final 30 seconds and preserved a 50-41 win over the Lady Wolverines.
For the Flowery Branch boys, Bailey knocked down a pair of pull-up jump shots and then a 3-pointer as it took a 16-8 lead late in the first.
Leading 34-18 after halftime, the Falcons received quick baskets from Kanler Coker (eight points) on a reverse layup, followed quickly by a 3-pointer by Tyler McBroom. When Andrew Miles scored on a basket off a turnover at the end of the third quarter, the Falcons held their biggest lead of the game at 46-26.
Still, the Wolverines managed to chip away modestly in the fourth period. Parisi knocked down a pair of consecutive 3-pointers to take the deficit down to 51-41 with 55 seconds left to play.
Philipe Silva was also in double digits scoring for West, which hadn’t played for two weeks leading into Tuesday’s meeting in Flowery Branch.
“For a two-week layoff, our defense and coverage were good,” West coach Dennis Benedict said. “I thought we played well for the most part.”
West plays host to South Forsyth at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Cumming.
Flowery Branch (girls) 50, West Forsyth 41
Fresh off a two-week break since their last game, the Lady Falcons (6-6) built a 14-point fourth-quarter lead and did enough to compensate for a game-high 27 points and four rebounds from Lady Wolverines senior Jenna Thompson.
Flowery Branch built its biggest lead of the night at 44-30 and 4:10 left to play with one of Marissa Ivey’s (14 points) four 3-point shots on the night. She also hit a 3-point basket midway through the third quarter followed by a jump shot to take a 29-22 lead.
“I thought she shot the ball really well tonight,” Flowery Branch coach Hazel Hall said.
West (4-9, 2-1 Region 6-AAAAA) started to cut into the late deficit immediately with a 3-pointer by Kathryn Watson. Then trailing by 11, Thompson (11 of 28 shooting) went to work with three consecutive baskets, included in that a 3-point play with a foul shot to draw to within 6 points at 46-40 and only one minute left to play. In the Lady Wolverines’ last meeting against Flowery Branch on Dec. 13, Thompson, their only senior, finished with 30 points.
“She does a great job battling for us and just knows where to find shots,” West Forsyth coach Seth Chadwick said. “She’s done it time and time again for us.”
Trailing 46-41, West Forsyth forced a turnover on the inbounds pass, but the three defenders that were jockeying for possession last touched the ball before it went out of bounds along the side nearest the scorer’s table.
Ramey and Lacko proceeded to hit their free throws at the end to secure victory.
Ramey had a big game for the Lady Falcons in all areas. She had a big basket for Flowery Branch during its 10-0 run early in the fourth quarter and finished the game with six points, nine rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot.
“Jacy’s what Dick Vitale would call a ‘stat-sheet stuffer’ for us,” Hall said. “I know she had a number of deflected passes too that were big.”
Tavia Sykes added a pair of 3-pointers midway through the second quarter for the Lady Falcons and finished with 11 points, five rebounds and five assists. Cara Chilton finished with seven points and five rebounds for Flowery Branch.
West Forsyth hosts South Forsyth at 6 p.m. Saturday.