The Middle Tennessee Invitational Tournament returned to Franklin High School Thursday, 60 years after the first one. The “new” tourney got its first classic game Friday night when East Nashville earned a spot in the championship game by edging the host Rebels 71-70 in overtime.
Franklin had defeated the Eagles in the opening game of the year 71-68 in November on a Reese Glover buzzer-beater. Glover got the last shot of the night Friday, a three from the top of the key under heavy pressure that bounced off the back of the rim.
“I’ve had all of Franklin I want,” East Nashville coach Jim Fey said after the game, “they are a great team. They’ve got great kids who play within their system and cause us problems. And (Reese) Glover can hit from anywhere.”
Franklin coach Darrin Joines seemed to agree the two teams were as equal as the two contests they had played.
“If we played them 50 times, I believe every game would end that way,” he said.
Most of the game stats proved both coaches right – both teams had 12 turnovers and 14 personal fouls; East hit nine 3-pointers, Franklin hit eight.
Franklin built a lead throughout the game, taking a 33-25 advantage into the locker room at halftime and stretching it to as much as 10 at one point in the second half. East closed the margin to three, 63-60, headed into the final minute of regulation.
The Eagles’ Isaiah Jones nailed a trey with 28 seconds remaining to tie the contest. Franklin worked patiently and got ball into Jordan Bruce’s hands deep in the right corner. Bruce’s 3-pointer clanked off the iron as the buzzer sounded and he wound up hammered to the floor, sending the game into overtime.
Reed Kemp came up big in the overtime period, but the Rebels could not stem the tide as East’s Willie Wilson and Jones both hit threes to put the Eagles ahead, setting up Glover’s last-second attempt.
The Eagles’ Calab Grimes notched a triple double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and Michael Dowlen added a double-double (16 points, 13 boards). Jones finished with 18 points to lead the visitors and Wilson added 14, all needed as the Franklin defense held East’s leading scorer, Taras Carter, to just two points.
Glover again was the top scorer in the game, firing in 27 points, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range, and Matt Thurman came up huge for Franklin, posting a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
With the loss, Franklin will face Cane Ridge in the boys consolation game Saturday at 5:30; East meets its own district rival, Stratford, for the boys championship at 8:30 p.m. in the Franklin gym.
East Nashville 8 17 22 16 8 71
Franklin 12 21 17 13 7 70
EAST NASHVILLE (71) – Isaiah Jones 18; Michael Dowlen 16; Willie Wilson 14; Calab Grimes 12; Cole 7; Carter 2; Stewart 2.
FRANKLIN (70) – Reese Glover 27; Matt Thurman 15; Kemp 9; Haynesworth 8; Bruce 7; Sanchez 4.
3 Pt shots: East Nashville 9 (Jones 4; Cole 2; Wilson 2; Grimes 1); Franklin 8 (Glover 5; Bruce 2; Kemp 1).
FT’s: East Nashville 12-of-19 (63.2%); Franklin 6-of-12 (50.0%)
Turnovers: East Nashville 12; Franklin 12.
Rebounds: East Nashville 43; Franklin 32.
PF’s: East Nashville 14; Franklin 14.