BRENTWOOD – Despite forfeiting a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, the Franklin High School boys basketball team hung on for a 46-44 win at longtime rival Brentwood Tuesday night.
The Admirals, ranked No. 5 in the latest Associated Press Top 10 poll in Class AAA, fended off a fourth-quarter surge from the home team – the No. 8-ranked Bruins.
“It was way closer than we wanted it to be, but they are a great team,” Franklin senior Matt Thurman said. “We could have played better defense, not fouled and hit more of our free throws. There’s a lot of stuff we could have done, but they played great also.”
Thurman scored 11 points and was one of three double-digit scorers for the Admirals who stuck with their veteran starting five the entire contest. Reed Kemp led Franklin with 14 points, including going 8-of-12 at the foul line in the fourth, while Aidan Smylie closed with a dozen.
Franklin opened a 37-27 lead early in the fourth after extending a slim 21-18 halftime advantage in the third. Taylor Spierto slipped behind the Brentwood defense for a couple buckets in the third and Kemp scored on a couple tough drives.
The Bruins battled back, though, in a physical final five minutes.
“It was a typical Williamson County Franklin-Brentwood battle, I mean two ranked teams in the top 10 in the state, Franklin just made a couple more plays than us,” Brentwood coach Greg Shirley said. “I’m really proud of our young men for competing and staying together when we were down.”
Brentwood senior Griffin Burke, who scored 12 points, led a tradeoff down the stretch – buckets for free throws – when he drilled a 3-pointer to pull the Bruins within 37-30. Franklin didn’t score from the field over the final five minutes, but did connect on 11-of-15 free throws.
“We said in the huddle that we’ve been here before, we know what this is like,” Burke said. “We knew we just had to stick together.”
Thurman hit two free throws at the 4:28 mark to extend the lead to nine, but Brentwood freshman Daniel Cochran found a seam and scored on a drive plus the foul. He also hit the free throw to cut the Admirals lead to six with just over three minutes to go.
Kemp went 1-of-2 at the line with 2:44 to play and Burke slipped a pass to John Windley for an easy bucket at the other to get within five. On the next Franklin possession, teammates Jake Brock and Cochran slammed into one another with Kemp sandwiched between going for a loose ball sending all three sprawling.
Cochran took the brunt of the hit and eventually exited under his own power but did not return. Kemp extended the lead another point at the line to 41-35 with 1:33 to play.
Brock tracked down a long rebound and Davis White drilled a deep 3-pointer from in front of the Brentwood bench as the home team closed within 41-38 with 71 seconds remaining.
“Brentwood-Franklin, it’s always been electric with fans or not,” Burke said. “The high stakes are always there and we just try to control what we can on the floor. It got chippy out there.”
Ten seconds later, Kemp was fouled and hit another free throw for a 42-38 cushion, but Windley followed his own miss at the other end as the Bruins clawed to within 42-40. Another Bruins foul to stop the clock sent Kemp back to the line where the senior hit both in the double bonus for a 44-40 edge with 39 seconds to play.
Burke missed a leaner on the next possession, but Brock sniffed out another loose ball and forced a jump with Franklin’s Connor Beavon in a scramble. Macen Redner scored on a dish from White and Brentwood pulled back within a bucket inside the final 20 seconds out of the inbound.
Kemp tacked on two more free throws with 15.8 seconds left for a 46-42 cushion. Burke went the length of the floor for a layup as time ticked away to get back within two points and Brentwood garnered one more shot when Thurman’s inbound pass to Smylie was heavily defended by White at midcourt and Smylie ultimately was forced into an over-and-back violation with 1.7 seconds remaining.
BRENTWOOD – It didn’t come right away in the third quarter, but the Brentwood High School gi…
A last-second shot from Brock under pressure form Kemp was off the mark as time expired.
“I’m really proud of our effort that was just two veteran teams going at one another,” Shirley said. “They’re a very good team and we’re going to have to figure out some ways to get better, but you still haven’t seen the best Brentwood basketball team yet. I just hope we get the chance to play again.”
“We know we have another opportunity to get better on Friday and Saturday and get back at it to bounce back,” Burke added of Friday’s trip to Dickson County and Saturday’s home game against Summit. “We took a loss tonight unfortunately, but we did everything we could do to give ourselves a shot.”
Thurman and the Admirals improved to 15-2 overall and 8-1 in district play. They host Ravenwood Friday.
“Our district is great but we have to just come out and play our game,” Thurman said. “I really think we can make a deep run. We all want to win and we will do whatever it takes.”
Franklin boys 46, Brentwood 44
FHS 14 7 12 13 – 46
BHS 12 6 8 18 – 44
FHS (46) – Taylor Spierto 4, Reed Kemp 14, Aidan Smylie 12, Connor Beavon 5, Matt Thurman 11.
BHS (44) – John Windley 10, Griffin Burke 12, Jake Brock 3, Davis White 3, Macen Redner 6, Daniel Cochran 4, Dustin Bluhm 6.
3-pointers – FHS 3 (Smylie 2, Beavon), BHS 4 (Burke 2, Brock, White). Total Fouls – FHS 9, BHS 15. Fouled Out – None.