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Lanierland: Lady Falcons advance to first finals since '03

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
GAINESVILLE -- The Flowery Branch girls basketball team said earlier in the week they like to go about their business quietly.

The Lady Falcons made a loud statement Thursday in the semifinals of the Lanierland Tournament, however, routing two-time defending champion East Hall 57-33 to advance to their first finals since winning their only title in 2003.

"We're excited about being in the finals and hopefully we can have a good game against Chestatee," Flowery Branch coach Hazel Hall said. "This will be my first time in the finals as a coach and I'm looking forward to it. I know the girls are."

Flowery Branch will take on Chestatee, which rallied to beat North Hall 46-41 in the other semifinals, in the championship game Saturday at 7 p.m. at North Hall.

It should be a great contrast in styles as the Lady Falcons like to run early and often while Chestatee plays more of a half-court game.

"I expect it to be probably a low-scoring game. Both teams play good defense," Hall said. "We like to run and that's what we'll try to do. It should be a good game."

Flowery Branch (11-0) looked all business from the opening tip. After falling behind in the opening minute, the Lady Falcons defense sparked an early run to take the lead and then turned up the pressure in the third quarter to blow the game open.

"I thought our defense limited them and we got some easy baskets off their turnovers," Hall said about their defense.

East Hall came out strong taking a quick 4-2 lead in the opening minute. But the Lady Falcons would answer.

Flowery Branch would force three straight East Hall turnovers to ignite an 11-0 run to take a lead it would never relinquish. Four different players scored during the run, capped by a three-point play from Jacy Ramey for a 13-4 lead.

The Lady Vikings got within 14-7 on a Allison Millwood basket but Flowery Branch extended its lead to 17-7 on a 3-pointer by Heather Moore at the buzzer to end the first quarter.

East Hall would make one more run in the first half closing to 17-14 on consecutive layups by Ashlyn Ellison. But the Lady Falcons again answered closing out the first half on a 12-3 run for a 29-17 lead.

Flowery Branch would pick up right where it left off in the third quarter using a 22-6 run to blow the game open. The Lady Falcons would lead by as many as 26 in the fourth quarter before East Hall closed the gap to the final score.

Tavia Sykes paced Flowery Branch with 12 points, including two 3-pointers. Marissa Ivey and Jasmine Thornton each had seven points for the Lady Falcons.

East Hall was led by Chelsea Dale with nine points. Jatasia Bailey added seven points for the Lady Vikings.
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