FRANKLIN – It’s a good thing the gas leak that emptied the Franklin High School campus Monday night, forcing the Admirals to move their contest with Dickson County to Independence High School at the end of the first quarter, was fixed by the start of Tuesday's game with Page.
Franklin was on fire in the fourth quarter, shooting a blistering 75% from the field and torching the Patriots for 23 points as the Admirals posted their 22nd straight victory and earned the right to host Ravenwood for the District 11-AAA tournament title with a 65-43 win on Hillsboro Road.
Page, coming off an intense, hard fought victory over Independence Monday night, stayed close for most of the game and appeared just one good run away from challenging the Admirals heading into the final eight minutes.
However, for a three-minute stretch, Franklin was unstoppable. Connor Beavon started with a 3-pointer then missed another triple on the next possession before Matt Thurman added a deuce. Aidan Smylie scored on the next four possessions, alternating between layups and 20-footers for 10 points in two minutes. Joey Cucullo’s six points and a 3-pointer from Andres Casella were the only answers the Patriots could muster.
The three-minute onslaught ended with Reed Kemp netting his 21st point, a trey from the top of the arc that ended both his scoring and his night. The senior guard pointed at a Page player as the shot went through and was immediately tagged with an unsportsmanlike conduct technical foul by officials. Kemp went to the bench to protect from a second technical that would have made the team’s leading scorer ineligible for two games.
Smylie ended with 15 points and Thurman with 14 points and double-digit rebounds. Neither performance surprised Franklin coach Jason Tigert.
“Aidan is a kid who puts in the work. Man, he stepped up when it mattered and he is someone we really trust when the game is on the line," Tigert said. "And Matt has led us all year in rebounding and we really challenged him today to hit the boards tonight against (Jaime) Hernandez.”
Hernandez led Page with 10 points, all in the first half, in a game that was brutally physical in the paint.
The Patriots struggled all night to find a shooting groove, especially from behind the 3-point line. Page shot just 44% from the floor, including 23% (3-of-13) from behind the arc.
Another bright spot for the Admirals was the play off the bench of senior Mason Jones, freshmen Davis Long and Noah Magee, who were able to give much needed rest to Thurman, Kemp and Smylie.
“Those three have been important to us the second half of the season," Tigert said. "Those are pieces we trust – they can come in and take care of the basketball and burn a little of the clock.”
Franklin will host Ravenwood, a 51-44 winner at Brentwood, Wednesday night the for the district title. The Raptors are the last team to defeat the Admirals, 61-59 in early December in Brentwood. Franklin won the rematch 69-68 four weeks ago.
Page will travel to Brentwood in the district consolation match Wednesday night. The Patriots split with Brentwood, losing by 11 points on the road before avenging the loss by seven at home three weeks ago.
All four teams advance to the Region 6-AAA tournament next week.
Franklin boys 65, Page 43, District 11-AAA Semifinal
PHS 11 9 9 14 – 43
FHS 15 13 14 23 – 65
PHS (43) – Jaime Hernandez 10, Joey Cucullo 7, Andres Casella 6, Price Bruehl 5, Grant Snider 4, Parker Burrow 3.
FHS (65) – Reed Kemp 21, Aidan Smylie 15, Matt Thurman 14, Taylor Spierto 7, Connor Beavon 6, Mason Jones 2.
3-pointers – PHS 3 (Casella, Bruehl, Burrow), FHS 11 (Kemp 4, Smylie 2, Beavon 2, Thurman 2, Spierto). Total Fouls – PHS 8, FHS 10.