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Rebels Beat Bruins for the 4th Time to Advance to Sectionals

Region Champions
Region Champions

Reese Glover, Ahsharri Haynesworth and the Franklin Rebels dominated in the second half of Thursday's Region 6-AAA championship at Brentwood High School. Glover scored 27 of his game-high 29 points after the half to blow open a 23-23 halftime tie with rival Brentwood and rocket to a 78-51 victory to win a second consecutive region title. Haynesworth added 19 points in the win as Franklin earned one more home game for their unwavering fans Monday night against Gallatin in the Class AAA Sectionals. A win could end the school's 30-year state tournament draught.

"This feels great," Glover said. The senior shined one more time in the great Williamson County rivalry. After shooting 1-of-9 in the first half being hounded by the pressure of Brentwood, primarily that of John Windley, Glover emerged out of the locker room as 2,000-plus-point scorer he is. With 2:37 to play in the third, he lifted the Rebels in front 37-31 with his first 3-pointer of the contest. He hit six more spanning the rest of the third and into the fourth, drilling step-backs, elevating for pull-ups and simply dazzling a standing-room only crowd at Brentwood's packed gym. "They came out in the second half, got hot and that was it," said Brentwood coach Greg Shirley, whose Bruins will try to reach state Monday for the first since 2017 with a win at Station Camp against the Region 5-AAA champs. Glover, the regular season and District 11-AAA tournament MVP, finished the region tournament averaging 22.3 points and after Thursday's 7-of-14 performance from long range, shot just a shade under 40 percent from 3-point territory. He added another region tournament MVP to his accolades as well.  The senior was almost overcome with emotion following the win. "I just love our Franklin community," he said. "It just feels really good to know that I have people who have my back."
 
The first half was a back-and-forth affair where the Rebels took an early seven-point lead, but watched it slip away and turn into a five-point deficit on a Windley basket with 3:22 left in the second frame. Windley bottled up Glover early and at one point blocked the Franklin star twice before forcing a jump ball. Windley (10 points) and big-man Ben Mills (8 points, 8 rebounds) guided the Bruins early. Mills closed the first half with back-to-back blocks against Franklin's Reed Kemp as time expired. He sent the Bruins student section into a flexing frenzy when he snatched Kemp's second attempt out of the air with authority.

Kemp, the steady sophomore who earned an All-Region Tournament nod, closed with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists. He opened the second half by feeding Matt Thurman for an easy bucket. Franklin coach Darrin Joines and assistant Justin Anderson pointed to Jordan Bruce's 3-pointer with 5:23 to play in the third as the true turning point. "With us, you have to pick your poison with who you're going to guard because we can score," Joines said. "We scored 55 points in the second half against a pretty stingy defense. "One of my mentors once told me, scoring is like a bottle of olives, or something like that, but once you get that first one out, it just starts flowing. "The olive jar lost its lid after that Bruce 3-pointer.

Franklin went 10-of-16 from the field in the third quarter and then 10-of-14 in the fourth. They shot 67 percent in the second half and an even more incredible 12-of-14 from 3-point range (86 percent). Brentwood still managed to hit shots, but simply couldn't keep pace with the offensive barrage led by Glover and fellow senior Haynesworth. Haynesworth had 12 of his 19 after the break, feeding off Glover. The pair combined to shoot 14-of-19 in the second half. The big-man also got into the 3-point barrage – Franklin shot 15-of-26 from beyond the arc for the game – by hitting two of his own in a wild 28-9 run by the Rebels over about seven minutes of game spanning the third and fourth quarters. "It felt good," said Haynesworth, who teamed up with Thurman to help give Franklin a 38-26 rebounding edge. "It was banging (underneath). You had to fight for everything you got." Haynesworth hit his second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter with 5:33 to play. The triple came on the heels of Glover's 3 when he stepped into a 30-footer over Mills. Glover turned to play defense with a shrug of the shoulders, mirroring NBA great Michael Jordan's legendary "shrug game" after leading the Chicago Bulls past the Portland Trail Blazers 27 years ago in the Finals.

"We can score at will whenever we want to," Glover said. "But it's about having confidence, my teammates having confidence in me. I just tried to shoot the ball as best as I could to get this win." The veterans got the best of the youngsters Tuesday in the Region 6-AAA semifinals. Harry Lackey scored 13 points and had seven rebounds for Brentwood. Cole Massey added 11 points with three treys. Shirley said the Bruins will have to forget this one quickly to focus on Monday's trip to Station Camp. "They got the best of us tonight, but we plan on walking into Middle Tennessee State (for the state tournament)," he said.  The Rebels, which ended Brentwood's season in the region semis last year, fell to Mt. Juliet at home in sectionals last year to miss a state berth. This year is the 30th anniversary of the Rebels state championship – the last time Franklin advanced to the big stage. "Last year, we had a bitter taste in our mouths getting beat," Joines said. "But I was proud of that team, just as I am proud of this team ... We'll be ready."

Franklin boys 78, Brentwood 51, Region 6-AAA Championship

FHS – 12 11 25 30 – 78

BHS – 12 11 13 15 – 51

FHS (78) – Ahsharri Haynesworth 8-14 0-0 19, Reese Glover 10-22 2-2 29, Reed Kemp 3-10 3-4 10, Jordan Bruce 3-3 0-0 9, Matt Thurman 2-7 0-0 4, Jacob McGraw 0-0 0-0 0, Finlay Long 0-0 0-0 0, Connor Beavon 0-0 0-0 0, Austin Wadzinski 1-1 0-0 3, Luis Sanchez 0-0 0-0 0, Aidan Smylie 2-2 0-0 4, Mason Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Fisher Anderson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals – 29-59 5-6 78.

BHS (51) – John Windley 4-7 0-0 10, Preston Moore 2-8 2-3 7, Harry Lackey 6-12 1-4 13, Cole Massey 4-10 0-0 11, Ben Mills 4-9 0-1 8, Joey McPherson 0-2 0-0 0, John Franklin Burks 1-1 0-0 2, Evan Drennan 0-0 0-0 0, Griffin Burke 0-1 0-0 0, Russell Mills 0-0 0-0 0. Totals – 21-50 3-8 51.

3-point goals – FHS 15-26 (Glover 7-13, Bruce 3-3, Haynesworth 3-5, Wadzinski 1-1, Kemp 1-3); BHS 6-22 (Massey 3-8, Windley 2-4, Moore 1-6). Rebounds –FHS 36 (Thurman 8, Kemp 7); BHS 28 (Mills 8, Lackey 7). Assists – FHS 12 (Kemp 5, Glover 3); BHS 14 (Moore 6). Steals – FHS 7 (Glover 2, Kemp 2, Long 2); BHS 5 (Moore 2). Blocks – FHS 4 (Haynesworth 2); BHS 6 (Mills 4). Turnovers – FHS 9; BHS 14. Total Fouls – FHS 10; BHS 12. Fouled Out –None.

Video Highlights:  https://youtu.be/uG_FPJhKkAE

Source:  Williamson Herald