Redhawk girls rally, boys fall to Flora

BLYTHEWOOD – The A.C. Flora boys’ basketball team found an answer for Arden Conyers. Westwood did not have an answer for Chris Parker Friday night at The Castle.

Conyers had three 3-pointers and 15 points, but the Falcons nearly shut him out under the net and limited him to two foul shots. Parker on the other hand, had 10 short-range field goals and finished the night with 21 points to lead A.C. Flora to a 51-48 Region 5-4A opening victory over the Redhawks.

“Chris Parker is a really good player. He’s one of the best players in the state and in our region,” Westwood head coach John Combs said. “We just didn’t do a particularly good job of finishing at the rim tonight.”

Westwood stayed on the good side of the 3-point arc most of the night, sinking nine 3s. But Flora gave up just two Westwood inside baskets in the first half and five for the game.

Meanwhile Parker camped out under the net and delivered quick and easy points for the Falcons.

“CP was huge. He’s a big part of this team,” first-year Flora head coach and former Lower Richland and Clemson standout Ed Scott said. “The amount of rebounds he’s able to get for us and the things like extra ball-handling for us, things that just don’t show up on the stat sheet.”

In defending Conyers, Scott added that “We paid more attention to him. We made sure who was guarding him. They were running some sets with double screens for him to get him open or to catch us on the low sides so he could dribble to the middle. We were able to force him into the principles of our defense rather than allowing him to get to the screen stuff.”

The Redhawks (8-9) opened the game with two 3s from K.J. Rowan and one from T.J. Bell. The Falcons (8-7) soon erased the 9-0 deficit. They evened the score at 12 with 20 seconds left in the first, but Conyers’ 3-point play with two seconds left gave Westwood a 15-12 lead.

The Falcons opened the second quarter with a pair of 3s from Jackson Gray and eventually outscored the Redhawks 16-10. A.C. Flora held a 28-25 lead at the half.

The Falcons worked up a 35-26 lead in the third quarter before Bell kicked into gear. In the last three minutes of the third, Bell hit a 3, one of two foul shots, made a steal and basket to get Westwood back to within three points with 1:32 to go in the third.

Parker scored on a couple of baskets to keep Flora ahead, but another Bell 3 before the buzzer had the Redhawks behind 39-37 going into the fourth quarter.

Bell evened the score at 39 at the 7:19 mark, and two T.K. Roberts foul shots 30 seconds later gave Westwood its first lead of the game since the first quarter.

Zion Brown’s one of two foul shots gave the Redhawks a 44-41 lead with 5:04 left, but A.C. Flora took a 47-44 lead on baskets from Parker, William Willard, and Gray soonafter.

Bell’s final 3 of the game evened the score at 47 with 3:12 to go, but the Falcons kept Westwood away from the basket, save a Roberts free throw, for the rest of the game.

Gray’s basket with 1:13 left and two free throws with 3 seconds left iced the game.

“Our region is going to be a battle every single night. We’ve got to be mentally tough and figure out ways to make plays,” Combs said. “We just didn’t make enough tonight, and Flora made the plays, made the steals, and made more shots than us.”

Bell finished the night with 20 points, 17 of which came in the second half. 

Besides Parker’s 21 points and eight rebounds, Gray finished with 15 to lead Flora.

Westwood beat Lugoff-Elgin 54-52 in overtime Tuesday night and plays host to Ridge View Friday. The Redhawks play Cardinal Newman in the MLK Bash at Eau Claire High School Monday.

The Westwood girls (14-3) got over A.C. Flora (11-6), likely their biggest region challenge in the region, but it came tough. The Redhawks started off slowly and fell behind eight points before rallying to being a point down at halftime. With an early second-half rally they closed out a 53-37 win.

“We were able to get back into it, and we knew that when we were able to close the gap at halftime, all we needed to do was stay with what was working,” Redhawks head coach Gregory Bauldrick said. “We would then transition to a full-court press to see if we could disrupt them a little bit, which we did.”

After a slow-going first half, Makiah Thompson opened up the third quarter with a 3-pointer to give Westwood a 25-23 lead. Two baskets from Korletta Daniels and one from Jessica Woods put the Redhawks up 33-23 at the 5:20 mark.

From there on out Westwood stayed in command. The Redhawks led 39-30 going into the fourth quarter and outscored the Falcons 14-7 to close out the win.

“Coach (Jacob Thompson) and I spoke about it before the game about how critical this game was,” Bauldrick said. “We just happened to be fortunate to be on the winning side of it tonight.”

Westwood leveled Lugoff-Elgin 60-27 Tuesday night and plays host to Ridge View. The Redhawks play Keenan in the MLK bash Saturday.

Boys

A.C. Flora – 12-16-11-12 — 51

Westwood – 15-10-12-11 — 48

A.C. Flora: Christopher Parker 21, Jackson Gray 15, Maxwell-Timms 8, Higgins 3, Willard 2, Wiley 2.

Westwood: T.J. Bell 20, Arden Conyers 14, K.J. Rowan 6, Roberts 3, Balkman 2, L. Brown 2, Z. Brown 1.

Girls

A.C. Flora – 9-14-7-7 — 37

Westwood  – 9-13-17-14 — 53

A.C. Flora: Trinity Delaney 18, Gray 8, Craft 5, McCray 2, Wright-Thompson 2, Ta. Delaney 2.

Westwood: Jessica Woods 15, Makiah Thompson 11, Daniels 8, Johnson 8, Odieire 6, Branch 2, Chatman 2, Graham-Brown 1.

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