Falcons stay unbeaten, roll past Heritage

FLOWERY BRANCH -- The Flowery Branch girls basketball team had a 10-game winning streak snapped last weekend when it lost to county rival East Hall. Playing a region opponent Tuesday, the Falcons got back to what they do best.

Tavia Sykes and freshman Breanna Locke scored 13 points each to lead six players with at least six points and Flowery Branch remained unbeaten in Region 8-AAAAA at 15-0 with a 64-39 victory over Heritage.

Heritage was hoping to move over the .500 mark in league play with a win, but instead fell to 7-8 and 10-14 overall.

Aujana Dawkins, who had a team-high 18 points, tried to keep Heritage in the game. Dawkins scored six straight points early in the third, then Che Hardaway (12 points) drained a pull-up 3-pointer from the top of the key, capping a 9-0 spurt that got the Patriots to within 36-26 midway through the period.

But Flowery Branch, which moved to 22-2 overall and has lost just once since late December, never blinked. An 11-3 quarter-ending run that included a beautiful pull-up jumper on the baseline by Marissa Ivey (eight points) sent the Falcons to the final period up 47-29.

"They moved the ball extremely well on the perimeter, just very fundamentally sound. They're well-coached," Heritage coach Lauren Chambers said of Flowery Branch. "I don't think anybody in this region is 25 points better than us. It's the No. 1 team in the region, (but) I think we can contend with them on our best night. It just wasn't our best night."

Flowery Branch used its full-court press late in the opening quarter to grab the lead for good. After Falcons coach Hazel Hall called a timeout with just less than three minutes to play, the hosts had three consecutive steals, two on inbounds plays, and six quick points capped a 9-0 run and put Flowery Branch up 11-5.

It was 16-7 after a quarter as Sykes hit a 3-pointer, part of her 10-point first half, with 17 seconds left. At one point, the Falcons scored 19 of 21 points to stretch the lead to 21-7 with seven minutes left in the half.

Heritage got to within 23-14 on a pair of free throws by Hardaway, but the Patriots would score just one point over the final 3 minutes. Flowery Branch, which forced 19 first-half turnovers, went 7 of 8 from the free throw line to go into the locker room up 30-15.

"After playing three games last week, I think our legs ... we were just exhausted," Chambers said. "Us not having a very deep bench doesn't always help (and) just couldn't get those easy baskets. Wasn't our night."

Two minutes into the game, the visitors from Conyers led 5-2 as Dawkins had three early points. Jacy Ramey had a bucket and Dani Lacko hit 1 of 2 free throws to tie the game at 5-5 with 4:33 to play in the first. That was as close as Heritage would get the rest of the night.