STORY BY JAKE DONOVAN | PHOTO BY DEB SCALLY
The 60th anniversary of the Middle Tennessee Invitational Tournament provided a milestone of another kind for Reese Glover and the hosting Franklin Rebels.
A game-high 28 points from the senior guard paved the way for a 73-64 Franklin victory over Clarksville’s Rossview High School in opening round tournament play Thursday evening at Franklin High School.
Among the scoring frenzy for Glover was a basket early in the 4th quarter, which put the Missouri Western commit at 2,000 points for his illustrious high school career. Fittingly, the moment went without celebration, as Franklin was more focused on turning away a scrappy Hawks team threatening to rally late.
“I thought we had the flow of the game, and then they just muddied it up,” Franklin head coach Darrin Joines told Home Page. “And I say that to their credit; that’s what you do when you’re down, what 18, 19 points. Even when they were coming back, when things weren’t quite going in our favor, we made a conscious effort to just play it out.
“I didn’t call time out, we just wanted to see how we’d react. That’s what this (tournament) is all about – making those decisions.”
The Rebels had to make plenty of decisions early in the game, particularly ways to uncork the offense in an uncharacteristically low-scoring first half of play.
Senior post player Ahsharri Haynesworth scored the first basket of the game, a layup providing the first of his 18 points on the night. Johmar Perkins immediately responded for the Hawks, driving to the basket to tie the game. Max Leinweber (17 points) gave visiting Rossview its biggest lead of the night—three—with a basket and free throw on separate scoring plays.
Franklin was never going to panic over a 5-2 deficit, but it wasn’t exactly a sprint back to the lead. In fact, it wasn’t until sophomore 6th man Connor Beavon drained a three with 3:39 to go in the 1st quarter when the Rebels went ahead.
Staying ahead was the trick, especially in a 1st half that only saw 46 combined points from both teams.
“It was just about getting in the flow of the offense,” Glover said of Franklin’s early struggles from the floor. “They ran a kind of jank defense, it was weird and hard to get used to. We just had to keep plugging, and I knew our shots would started falling in the second half and it was a big difference.”
It was very much welcomed, as the Rebels were eager to add to its modest 26-20 halftime lead. Glover found his stroke, nailing four of Franklin’s seven three-pointers in the 3rd quarter in giving the hosting squad a seemingly commanding 51-35 lead.
With grind-‘em out defense no longer effective, Rossview turned to the long ball in efforts to prevent a blowout. Before they could get there, Glover added two more points with 7:35 to play in the game. The Rebels went ahead 53-35 while—unbeknownst to everyone but the Franklin coaching staff—the basket gave Glover his 2,000th career point.
“I had no idea, coach didn’t tell me, he wanted to keep it a secret which was fine,” insisted Glover. “I’m honored to have achieved that mark, but it was nothing that we needed to celebrate. I made the shot and we just kept playing basketball.”
The Hawks began making their shots as well. Kevonte Perkins—who scored all of his team-high 18 points from 3-point range—drained the first of three 4th quarter treys immediately after Glover hit the milestone. The basket was part of a 13-2 run that saw Rossview pull within after having trailed by 18 at the start of the quarter.
“Late in the game, I felt for a minute we were playing not to lose, breaking the press and throwing it outside,” Joines believed of his normally run-and-gun team. “We discussed in a late timeout, deciding just to attack. That’s who we are. We did that, and the game went from six back to a double-digit lead in a hurry.”
Haynesworth and sophomore Matt Thurman (12 points, 7 rebounds) scored on back-to-back layups to put the Rebels back up by double digits. Rossview never getting any closer than within seven for the rest of the game, with the loss sending them to the consolation bracket versus South Gibson High School on Friday.
Franklin will have the honor of playing on the final game of Friday’s semifinals action. The hosting program will face East Nashville in a rematch of their season opener, which the Rebels won in a 71-68 thriller courtesy of a Glover three-pointer at the buzzer.
The winner of Franklin-East Nashville will advance to Saturday’s championship matchup versus whomever prevails between Stratford and Cane Ridge. Franklin lost to Stratford earlier in the season, while they will face Cane Ridge on January 10.
“That’s what this tournament is all about, getting some good looks at some really tough teams; it’s the only way we’ll get better in the second half of the season,” Joines points out. “Rossview is unbeaten in (District 10-AAA), same goes for Stratford and East Nashville (both in 10-AA play).
“There are no easy outs in this tournament; I think every team learned has already learned that.”
Photo from previous game.