A.C. Flora didn’t have Christian Brown on Tuesday night, but it still had James Reese and Deshawn Thomas.
The two seniors combined for 39 points as the Falcons defeated rival Dreher 70-53 to win the Region 5-4A championship. It was A.C. Flora’s third consecutive region crown.
“It’s next man up,” A.C. Flora coach Joshua Staley said. “Christian is at home and we pray he gets healthy, gets back to school and practice. But it’s next man up. Guys practice hard every day and work on their roles. No one is going to feel sorry that Christian is out. We’d much rather him be here, but other guys got to be ready to go.”
Staley said Brown, the highly touted sophomore, missed the game because of a sinus infection. He should be back for the Falcons’ playoff opener Wednesday. A.C. Flora has homecourt advantage throughout the 4A Lower State playoff bracket as long as it keeps winning.
Reese and Thomas are no stranger to coming up big during their careers. The two were key parts of last year’s state title run and led the way against the Blue Devils.
Reese, a Buffalo signee, led the way with 21 points. Thomas added 18 and was a presence down low altering shots.
A.C. Flora (14-10) took control of the game in the second quarter as it went on a 23-5 run and led 42-35 at halftime.
“The second quarter was real big. We had to dig in on defense and get a whole bunch of stops, then get the ball into Deshawn so he could score some easy buckets,” Reese said.
The Blue Devils got within 53-42 on C.J. Rojas’ 3-pointer late in the third quarter, but that’s as close as they would get.
Dreshaun Jones led Dreher (12-7) with a game-high 22 points. The Blue Devils finished third in the region in Steve Moore’s first season as coach and will open the playoffs on the road.
ACF leading scorers: James Reese 21, Deshawn Thomas 18. D: Simon Grant 11, Rojas 5, Rush 3, Brown 10, Thompson 2, Dreshaun Jones 22.
A.C. Flora 51,
Jordan Strange scored 18 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1:27 left in the Falcons’ victory.
A.C. Flora (13-9) scored the final six points of the game. With the win, the Falcons finish third in the region, while the Blue Devils (13-9) fall to fourth. Both will open up the playoffs on the road.
Jaelynn Murray led Dreher with 25 points. The Blue Devils were without second leading scorer Hayliah Sumter, who was out with a hand injury. Dreher has been without coach Teresa Jones, who is on medical leave with a foot problem.
ACF: Williams 2, Davis 4, McKinley Brooks-Sumpter 15, Fleming 4, Wongwon 6, Jordan Strange 18, Rhue 2. D: Praylow 3, Brown 2, C.Wilson 11, Jaelynn Murray 25, Jones 5.