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Rebels Lose to Bearden in State Quarterfinals

Franklin vs. Bearden
Franklin vs. Bearden

MURFREESBORO — As he walked off the floor at the end of the first half of Wednesday night's state tournament game against Bearden, Franklin head coach Darrin Joines told his assistant coaches that the game was going "perfectly."

The second half, however, was anything but ideal for the Rebels. Harassed and hurried by Bearden's relentless full-court press, the Rebels committed 20 turnovers in the final 16 minutes and saw their historic season come to an end with a 76-46 loss in the opening round of the Class AAA tournament at the Murphy Center on the MTSU campus.

Bearden will face Whitehaven in the semifinals on Friday. Franklin (28-7) — making its first appearance in the state tournament since winning the state title in 1989 — went 5-of-8 from 3-point range in the opening two quarters and owned a 21-19 lead at the half. But Bearden (30-5) turned up the heat defensively in the third quarter and put together a furious 26-0 run to build a 45-23 lead with one minute remaining in the quarter. The Bulldogs stayed comfortably in front from there.

Joines said Bearden's press was, in some ways, an ambush. Although the Franklin coaching staff knew it was coming, they weren't necessarily expecting to see it at that stage of the game. "They were wise to change it up (and go to the press)," said Joines. "As coaches, we talked about it and we thought they might do it at the end of the game. We'd seen them do it a lot in the fourth quarter (against other teams). They did it a little bit quicker than maybe we expected." The loss ended a hugely-successful season for the Rebels, who won the District 11-AAA regular-season title and then followed that up with a remarkable run through the postseason. Franklin captured both the 11-AAA tournament and the Region 6-AAA championship while maintaining a perfect postseason record prior to Wednesday. "We won every game to get here — and that's pretty special," said Joines. "There wasn't any of that, you know, lose here and finish fourth here and get the right draw there. We won every game to get here, which I think is pretty neat. These guys should be proud of that."

Franklin senior stars Reese Glover and Ahsharri Haynesworth both had huge games, combining for 40 of the Rebels 46 points in the loss. Glover finished with a game-high 24 points, including going 6-of-11 from 3-point range, in the final game of his decorated prep career. Haynesworth added 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, and finished 4-of-5 from long range. For Bearden, all five starters finished in double figures in scoring. Trent Stephney led the way with 16 points, Jacques Glover added 15, Roman Robinson had 14, Drew Pember 13 and Shamarcus Brown had 12. The Bulldogs were making their third straight appearance in the state tournament, and their experience certainly showed. On Friday, Bearden will play in its second straight state semifinal.  "I think it was a factor," said Joines. "Obviously, they are a veteran team in terms of having guys who have been in that moment. … But I'm telling you, we will be better for it moving forward. The pain of it is real now, but we will be happy about this season, no doubt about it." Reese Glover praised the Franklin fans — who turned out in huge numbers on Wednesday, just as they've done all season — and said the future is bright for Rebels. "It means a lot (to get to state)," said Glover. "And I just want to thank the community for always having our backs. And like coach said, I don't think this will be the last time that Franklin is in the state tournament."

Glover capped the second quarter by knocking down an off-balance, heavily-contested 3-pointer with two seconds remaining in the period to give Franklin a boost of momentum headed into the locker room and that 21-19 edge.  Glover scored again on a driving layup in the opening minute of the third quarter to push the lead to 23-19. But Bearden quickly turned up the heat defensively and put together the game-changing 26-0 run — which featured a mad flurry of steals, dunks and 3-pointers — to take control. The big surge enabled the Bulldogs to transform the 23-19 deficit into a 45-23 lead with just over a minute left in the quarter. "We were up at halftime, feeling pretty good and our crowd was into it," Glover said. "We had some momentum. But that third quarter just killed us." Bearden coach Jeremy Parrott said he and his staff decided to set the tempo early in the second half. "These guys really respond to playing in space and playing fast," Parrott said about his team. "And for us, it was just a question of waiting until it was the right time to turn them loose. We use different kinds of presses — it's not just a man press or a zone press — we kind of mix in the principles of different presses. And once our kids saw a couple of shots go down, they got some spring back in their step and they got a gleam in their eye and things started to go our way." Bearden, which outscored Franklin 29-4 in the third quarter, finished 25-of-35 from the field in the second half while exploding for 57 points in the final 16 minutes. That was a huge turnaround from the first half, when Franklin controlled the tempo and committed just three turnovers.

"I told the coaches going in at the half — and I told them a couple of times on the bench — the game is going perfectly," said Joines. "This is the exact way we need it to go. But then (Bearden) decided to change the way the game was going to be played, and we didn't handle it well." Franklin was 0-of-8 from two-point range in the first half but stayed afloat with strong outside shooting. Haynesworth was 3-of-3 from long range, and Glover was 2-of-5. The Rebels also went 4-of-6 from the foul line. Franklin finished 10-of-20 from 3-point range for the game, but converted just 2-of-17 shots from inside the 3-point line. "If you would have told me before the game that we would shoot 10-for-20 from 3-point range and they would shoot 6-for-22, I would have felt like it would have been a game that, at the end, we could have won," said Joines. Franklin was held without a field goal for the first six-plus minutes of second quarter, but trailed only 19-15 with 1:33 remaining before halftime. The Rebels then hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final 63 seconds of the quarter — Haynesworth connected with 1:03 remaining, and Glover later added his acrobatic 3-pointer just before the horn — to grab their 21-19 halftime lead. Haynesworth had 11 points in the first half and Glover added eight, as the twosome accounted for 19 of Franklin's 21 points. Matt Thurman added the other two points on a pair of free throws early in the second quarter. He hit two more late in the game and along with a layup from Reed Kemp – those were the only points scored by the Rebels outside of Glover and Haynesworth.  Joines still said he felt like his team did a nice job of handling the state-tournament hype, and said his players were not overwhelmed by the big stage. "I am really proud of these guys for getting us here," he said. "It's a pretty big deal to be playing tonight. … I don't think it's our last trip, I really don't. I think it's going to be, hopefully, a pretty regular thing."

Bearden boys 76, Franklin 46, Class AAA First Round

FHS – 11 10 4 21 – 46

BHS – 12 7 29 28 – 76

FHS (46) – Ahsharri Haynesworth 4-10 4-4 16, Reese Glover 7-16 4-6 24, Reed Kemp 1-6 0-0 2, Jordan Bruce 0-2 0-0 0, Matt Thurman 0-1 4-4 4, Jacob McGraw 0-1 0-0 0, Finlay Long 0-0 0-0 0, Connor Beavon 0-0 0-0 0, Austin Wadzinski 0-1 0-0 0, Luis Sanchez 0-0 0-0 0, Aidan Smylie 0-0 0-0 0, Mason Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Fisher Anderson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals – 12-37 12-14 46.

FHS (76) – Jacques Glover 7-14 0-0 15, Trent Stephney 7-11 1-2 16, Drew Pember 6-11 1-1 13, Roman Robinson 5-8 0-0 14, Shamarcus Brown 6-6 0-0 12, Izaiha Bredwood 0-0 0-0 0, Austin Pruitt 0-0 0-0 0, Tyler Nordin 2-3 0-0 4, Hayden Treadwell 0-0 0-0 0, Kordell Kah 0-2 2-2 2, Walker Kyle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals – 33-55 4-5 76.

3-point goals – FHS 10-20 (Glover 6-11, Haynesworth 4-5); BHS 6-22 (Robinson 4-6, Stephney 1-3, Glover 1-7). Rebounds – FHS 22 (Haynesworth 12); BHS 27 (Pember 10). Assists – FHS 5 (Bruce 2); BHS 19 (Stephney 8). Steals – FHS 2 (Haynesworth, Jones); BHS 8 (Stephney 4). Blocks – BHS 6 (Pember 4). Turnovers – FHS 23; BHS 10. Total Fouls – FHS 9; BHS 15. Fouled Out –None.

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Source:  Williamson Herald