A.C. Flora boys basketball coach Joshua Staley wants his team to enjoy its No. 1 ranking since taking over the top spot in the Class 3A South Carolina Basketball Coaches poll earlier this month.
The Falcons definitely have done that, winning their fourth straight game since with a 61-46 victory over Lower Richland on Friday.
With the win, A.C. Flora (15-2, 4-0) takes over the top spot in Region 4-3A over the Diamond Hornets, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.
“Whenever you are ranked No. 1, you’ve got to embrace it and not let you be the hunted,” Staley said. “Because when you are the hunted, you are on your heels. Lower Richland did a good job of hunting and had us on our heels, but we were able to bounce back and survive.
“Lower Richland got what us basketball coaches say, ‘a lot of dog in them’. They don’t quit, so we knew it was going to be tough to come out of here with a win.”
Kendale Hampton scored 15 points and James Reese added 14 for the Falcons, who used a third-quarter run to pull away. The Falcons struggled with the Diamond Hornets’ pressure in the first half, but did a much better job in the final two quarters.
A.C. Flora trailed 32-30 with 2:55 left in third quarter before an 8-0 run over the next three minutes, capped off by Reese’s 3-point to put the Falcons ahead 38-32 with 7:32 left.
The Diamond Hornets (6-10, 3-1) got as close as 50-46 on Clyde Trapp’s 3-pointer with 2:53 left, but Flora pulled away from the free-throw line. The Falcons hit 13-of-19 free throws in the final quarter.
“We just went back to the basics in the second half,” Reese said. “Our point guard, Brandon Davis, kept us poise and our head in it. Then we did what we do in practice, moved the ball and used teamwork.”
Ja’Cor Nelson led Lower Richland with 14 points, and Trapp had 11. The two combined for seven points in a 10-0 run in the second quarter to lead 22-21 at halftime.
LR: Ja’Cor Nelson 14, Carlos Nuttry 10, Clyde Trapp 11, Washington 6, Jackson 3. ACF: Brandon Davis 10, Kendale Hampton 15, James Reese 14, C. Brown 8, Thomas 8, Riley 1, Hollingsworth 2, D. Brown 3.
Lower Richland 61, A.C. Flora 35
Kentucky commit Kameron Roach scored 16 points and Cailah Hicklin added 15 as the Diamond Hornets (9-7, 3-1) won their third straight game.
The Diamond Hornets jumped out to a 15-4 lead and maintained a double-digit lead for the entire second half.
McKinley Brooks-Sumpter led the Falcons (10-8, 2-2) with 15 points.
Lower Richland will take on Spring Valley today in the final game of the Crescent Construction MLK girls Bash at LR.
LR: Washington 2, Williford 7, Adams 2, Nuttry 2, Kameron Roach 16, C. Hicklin 15, A. Washington 11, Archie 6. ACF: Williams 4, Jordan Strange 10, Myers 2, Rhue 2, Davis 2, McKinley Brooks-Sumpter 15.