A strong performance by freshmen Austin Ricks lifted Florence to an season-opening 61-57 victory over Mars Hill in boys basketball action Friday night.
Ricks came off the bench to fill in for Chaunce Watkins, last year’s area Player of the Year, who fouled out in the third quarter after scoring only seven points.
The win was not only the first of the season for the Falcons, but it was the first for head coach Steve Martin.
The two teams swapped baskets in the first quarter before Florence outscored Mars Hill 20-17 in the second quarter to take a three-point lead, 37-34.
Mars Hill, playing it’s first game of the season, pulled within two points as the third quarter ended by outscoring Florence 14-13.
However, the Panthers couldn’t make up any more ground in the fourth quarter as Florence outscored them 11-9 to take the win.
Darius Smith led Florence with 13, while Ricks added 12, Rashawn Smith had 11 and Jacob Simpson finished with 10.
Thomas Swinea finished with 12 points to lead the Panthers while Landon Willis added 10.
n Waterloo 48, Covenant Christian 36: The Cougars used a strong second half to break open a close game and stop the Eagles.
Trailing by one, 17-16 at the half, Waterloo used the scoring of Wayne Darby to began to pull away from the Eagles.
Darby scored 23 points to lead Waterloo, while San Griffin had 17 for Covenant.
n East Lawrence 62, Wilson 43: The combination of Malik Garth and Cameron Garner was too much for Wilson to handle as East Lawrence spoiled the Warriors season opener.
Garth and Garner combined for 31 points to lead East Lawrence. Garth finished with 19 points while Garner had 12.
Nick Boudin had 15 for Wilson.
n Phil Campbell 55, Shoals Christian 42: Phil Campbell outscored Shoals Christian in all four periods as the Bobcats rolled to the victory.
Colton Vickery scored a game-high 22 points for Phil Campbell (2-0). Will Bishop led Shoals Christian (0-1) with 15 points.
n Belgreen 62, Vina 17: Belgreen jumped out to a 22-5 lead after one period en route to a blowout of Vina.
Chase Landers led the Bulldogs (3-1) with 14 points, followed by Dustin Smith with 12 and Nick Miller with 10. Tyler Hammock paced Vina (0-1) with eight points.
n Mars Hill 45, Florence 36: Mars Hill pulled away in the second half to earn a season-opening victory over Florence.
The Panthers went into halftime leading 19-17 and extended the margin to 29-24 after three periods. Mars Hill (1-0) was able to hold off the Falcons in the final period to get the win.
Mary Willis led Mars Hill with 16 points. Emily Towery scored 10 points to lead Florence (0-1).
n Wilson 59, East Lawrence 31: Ciarra Edwards poured in a game-high 24 points as Wilson opened its season with an easy victory over East Lawrence.
Brianna Terrell added 11 points for the Warriors.
n Covenant Christian 57, Waterloo 36: The Eagles broke open a close game by outscoring Waterloo 14-4 in the second quarter and took control.
Bailey Hill scored 25 points and Anna Claire Noblit had 21 for the Eagles.
Baylee Atkinson had nine points to lead Waterloo.
n Belgreen 66, Vina 47: Belgreen exploded for 27 second-quarter points to take a 15-point lead at the half and never look back in stopped Vina.
Freshman Allison Bragwell led Belgreen with 15 points, while Lachen Bragwell and Lexie Bragwell had 14 points each and Cathy Scott added 11.
Morgan Humphres had 14 for Vina and Jessica Pickle added 10.
After trailing 17-13 at the end of the first quarter, Belgreen outscored Vina 27-8 in the second and 26-22 in the second half.