ATLANTA — The Flowery Branch girls are quickly becoming THAT team.
You know, the one that struggled through adversity all season only to finally find its talented groove at the right time. The one no one suddenly wants to play.
The Lady Falcons put on an impressive first-half display en route to a 45-35 win over Region 6-4A champion Marist on Friday on the road in the second round of the Class 4A state tournament.
After a 6-12 start to the season due to a variety of reasons (mainly COVID issues), they have now won 8 of the last 10 overall.
“We had two really tough stretches with COVID so to see them have success right now almost makes me tear up,” Flowery Branch coach Courtney Newton-Gonzalez said. “Our kids have really just locked into what we’re trying to do right now. We had about seven different defensive game plans coming in.
"Marist is a difficult team to defend and we just locked in defensively. Our defense is why we’re here right now."
It was an impressive victory from several standpoints.
The Lady Falcons (14-14) never trailed, opening the game with a 7-0 run. They led 15-2 and 19-6 at one point before Marist rallied to within 19-10 by the end of the first quarter.
They got hot outside shooting to go with Ashlee Locke inside as Morgan Aguilar and Shaina Kreiws opened up the middle with four 3-pointers in the early going.
And their 30 first-half points for a stunning 16-point halftime lead was just one below the Lady War Eagles season average for points allowed in a game.
“Marist plays a lot of low-scoring games so to get that big lead early was huge,” Newton-Gonzalez said. “We came out strong on offense to start the game and that was huge as well.”
“We’re just clicking at the right time and just getting the job done right now,” Kreiws said.
Marist did not go completely away. The Lady War Eagles got within 13 points twice and trailed just 38-24 when Kreiws drilled a 3-pointer to push the lead to 17 points with five minutes left.
The Lady War Eagles made one final push but could not get closer than the final score.
Kreiws finished with a game-high 20 points while Bella Brick had 10 points. Locke had 8 points, all in the first half to help build the big early lead.