A.C. Flora knew they let one slip away earlier this season in a one-point loss at Lower Richland. With control of Region 5-4A on the line Friday night in the rematch, the Falcons didn’t want to let it happen again.
Sophomore Christian Brown scored 30 points and the Falcons shook off a slow start to claim a 69-60 victory over the Diamonds in front of a packed crowd.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight out there and we’re full of dogs, so we were ready for the battle,” Brown said. “We ended up playing our game and came out with the win.”
The victory gives A.C. Flora (13-10, 6-1) control of the top spot in the region. If the Falcons defeat Dreher on Tuesday in the final regular-season contest, they’ll be the No. 1 seed. Lower Richland (15-4, 6-1) could have claimed its first region title since 2012 with a win, but A.C. Flora owns the tiebreaker if the teams finished tied based on point differential.
Lower Richland jumped to a 12-1 lead in the first four minutes, but the Falcons remained calm and trailed 16-14 at the end of the first quarter. Being able to slow the Diamonds’ early onslaught was key to A.C. Flora taking control.
“Lower Richland came out with really good energy and hit some shots. They were really playing harder than us at that time,” A.C. Flora coach Joshua Staley said. “We were a little tight, but we were able to find a way to get it together quickly.”
Things took another turn for the Falcons in the second quarter. Lower Richland’s Clyde Trapp injured his ankle trying to block a shot and he only briefly returned to the game. The Clemson-bound senior finished with five points.
Tevaughn Higgins scored 23 points and Ja’Cor Nelson added 13, but nobody else had more than eight.
“I was pleased with the guys that came off the bench and gave that effort,” LR coach Caleb Gaither said. “The thing that changed is the scoring had to be spread out among different people.”
The Falcons held a 25-20 lead at halftime when Brown took over in the third quarter. He got in the passing lanes on the defensive end, which turned into transition points on the offensive end. The 6-foot-7 forward scored 15 points to help give A.C. Flora a 47-33 lead.
Brown added nine rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks.
“That’s what we’ve talked to (Brown) about since I’ve been coaching him,” Staley said. “He can be the guy that dominates on both ends of the floor. He rebounded, he defended and he took good shots. That’s the type of kid we know he can be.”
Deshawn Thomas added 12 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks, while Diamante Brown had eight points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Falcons.
LR: Tevaughn Higgins 23, Ja’Cor Nelson 13, Townsend 8, Trapp 5, Hughes 4, Scott 4, Hair 2, Tatum-McConner 1. ACF: Christian Brown 30, Deshawn Thomas 12, James Reese 10, D. Brown 8, Jamison 4, Fouks 3, Finney 2.
A.C. Flora 41, Lower Richland 30
Jordan Strange scored 14 points as A.C. Flora denied Lower Richland the opportunity to claim the Region 5-4A title.
The Falcons (13-10, 3-4) took control from the opening tip and didn’t trail. The Diamonds pulled within two in the fourth quarter, before the Falcons clamped down and held Lower Richland scoreless for nearly four minutes.
Lower Richland (13-8, 6-1) plays Orangeburg-Wilkinson on Tuesday with the region title at stake.
LR: Cailah Hicklin 12, Canty 6, Archie 6, Adams 3, Brooks 3. ACF: Jordan Strange 14, McKinley Brooks-Sumpter 10, Williams 9, Wongwon 6, Davis 2.