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Middle School hoops: Dacula girls rally in final minutes

SUWANEE - Down by six points with less than two minutes remaining, it looked like the Dacula Middle School girls were in trouble.

Think again.

The Falcons closed on an 11-0 run Saturday and completed an unbeaten season with a 55-50 victory over Duluth for the Gwinnett County Western Division Middle School basketball championship before a large and enthusiastic crowd at Collins Hill High School.

"The girls played their hearts out," Dacula coach Brad Blackmon said. "They just wouldn't quit. They haven't all season."

Kelsey Hutchins scored 29 points for the Falcons, including 11 in the fourth quarter. She hit a key late 3-pointer - her fourth of the game - and made four consecutive foul shots in the closing seconds.

"She's a heck of a player," Blackmon said. "I know that Dacula High School is itching to get her."

The Falcons (13-0) had struggled at the foul line most of the season, but were 8-for-11 in the fourth quarter and 14-for-21 for the game.

Bria Virgil scored 12 points for Dacula to back Hutchins and Katelyn Daniels stepped up late for he Falcons, hitting a 3-pointer and going 2-for-2 from the foul line.

Dacula was able to complete its unbeaten year despite losing Joni Weatherspoon to a knee injury late in the season. Weatherspoon tweaked her knee again during the postgame celebration and had to be helped off the court.

Duluth, which made five 3-pointers during the game, scored nine straight points in the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats couldn't hold the lead.

Joi Jones scored 15 points, Aerial Carruthers 14 and Ali Cole 12 for Duluth (10-3).

The Western Division's girls all-county team was recognized before the game. Joining Hutchins of Dacula and Jones of Duluth were Hull's Jasimya Burch and Melisa Turpy, and Bre'Anna Singleton of Creekland.

Dacula boys 62, Lanier 50

The Dacula boys (12-1) completed a championship sweep for the Falcons, defeating Lanier 63-50 after falling behind by 10 points in the first quarter.

Lanier swept the girls and boys Western Division tournament titles in 2008.

Tied at halftime, Dacula used its speed and quickness to take a seven-point lead after three quarters and then pulled away in final period.

"We play up-tempo ball, and get out and run," Falcons coach Bob Gardner said. "We're a true team. That's what I've preached all year. Everyone contributes."

Dacula had four players in double figurers. Brandon Goodson scored 14, Randall Smith and Aubry Overby each had 12, and Marcus Cox scored 11.

Lanier lost its first five games, then won seven straight en route to the tournament championship game. Alex Boyd scored 23 points for the Bulldogs and Jordan Brown had 18. They combined for 25 of Lanier's 31 points in the first half and all but nine of Bulldogs' total for the game.

Dacula's Cox made the Western Division all-county team along with Kyle Nichols of Osborne, Myles Campbell of Duluth, Cody Pugh of Jones and Kharlil Bryant of Radloff.

SideBar: Middle School Championships

Western Division

Saturday at Collins Hill

Dacula girls 55, Duluth 50

Dacula boys 62, Lanier 50

Eastern Division

Friday at Shiloh

Crews girls 31, Trickum 25

Trickum boys 58, McConnell 56