A.C. Flora boys basketball coach Joshua Staley had a simple message to his team at halftime of Tuesday’s game against Keenan – relax.
The Falcons listened and played a lot looser, especially in the third quarter, in the 61-52 victory over the Raiders.
“We knew it was going to be a battle from beginning to end,” Staley said. “And we were able to get into a rhythm in the second half because we stopped turning the ball over, and were able to handle their pressure a little bit better.”
The Falcons (4-0) played uptight and struggled with turnovers and getting good looks against Keenan’s stingy defense over the first 16 minutes. A.C. Flora turned the ball over 12 times and trailed 18-17 at halftime in the matchup between two state championship participants from last season.
In the second half, things started to open up for Flora, which had just four turnovers after halftime, and outscored the Raiders 22-14 to lead 39-32 after three quarters. Keenan got as close as 47-43 with 3:13 left, but the Falcons put the game away at the free-throw line.
Flora hit 11 of its 13 free-throw attempts in the fourth, including all six from Kendale Hampton. James Reese led three Flora players in double figures with 16. Hampton had 14 and Brandon Davis had 14.
“We are very grateful to have balance,” Staley said. “When you have multiple guys who can put the ball in the hoop and give you a chance to be successful on the court, that is what you want to do.”
Tariq Simmons came off the bench to lead the Raiders with 13. Majerle Poole and Lemarcus Johnson each added 11 for the defending 2A champions, who dropped to 1-2 on the season.
“I think we have been relying on that last year’s state championship, but I think some eyes got opened up tonight,” Keenan coach Zach Norris. “It was a good battle and Flora has a very good team. But games like this make us see the necessity of working out harder in practice. That’s what we have been harping on.”
K: Tariq Simmons 13, Sanders 2, Marshall 4, Majerle Poole 11, Jones 4, Trapp 3, Lamarcus Johnson 11. Haney 4. ACF: Kendale Hampton 14, D. Brown 2, Reese 16, Brandon Davis 14, C. Brown 9, Thomas 3, Jamison 4.
Keenan 67, A.C. Flora 64
Breia Jackson scored 23 points and Keenan (2-2) used a 6-0 run in the fourth quarter to break a 52-52 tie for the victory.
The Falcons (4-3) had a chance to tie at the end of regulation, but missed a 3-pointer.
Logan McDaniel scored 11 of her 16 in the second half for Keenan. ACF’s Jordan Strange led all scorers with 28.
K: Hickman 8, Breia Jackson 23, Megan Young 11, Robinson 8, Logan Mc Daniel 16. ACF: Debrielle Williams 10, McKinley Brooks-Sumpter 13, Jordan Strange 28, Busby 5, Myers 6.