Preps: FRA girls continue to craft happy endings after slow starts

Sunday, December 11, 2011 at 10:29pm

Slow starts are concerns for coaches, but Chris Hart will focus on the finish if recent games are any indication.

His Franklin Road Academy girls basketball team trailed by11 points (18-7) in the second quarter and scored only 12 first-half points last Friday against Division II foe Pope John Paul II.

The host Panthers (7-1) gradually caught up, fell behind again, then rallied for a 58-57 double-overtime victory in one of this season’s most exciting girls basketball games to date.

The defending DII-A state champion started slowly in recent games as well, notably against Harpeth Hall. They came from way behind to win that one too.

Their only loss was to powerful Ensworth.

“We dug ourselves in a terrible hole the first half [Friday],” Hart said. “We missed a lot of shots and made some careless turnovers. We played better in the second half.”

FRA’s shooting was subpar in the first half and standout guard Derica Wyatt, a 2010 Miss Basketball, fouled out in the second overtime.

Nonetheless, the outcome came down to a free throw by reserve post player Kennedi Bell with 10 seconds left in the second overtime. She made it, snapped a 57-57 tie and the Panthers held on for the victory.

Wyatt 3s spark comeback

Wyatt, who won Miss Basketball as a freshman and was a finalist for the award last season, hit two big 3-pointers at the head of the circle, which gave her team a late four-point lead.

The scrappy Knights fought back. Trailing 49-46 and having to go the length of the floor with five seconds left, they rushed upcourt, then swung the ball to guard Kyndal Hale.

Hale swished in a deep 3 – one of six she made on the night – from the right wing at the buzzer and sent the game into overtime.

Bell eventually provided the difference-making point after she rebounded her own missed shot and was fouled on the putback attempt. The younger sister of FRA boys post player Kendrick Bell, she missed the first free throw then hit the second and finished with three points.

“The slow starts are becoming a concern,” Hart said. “We may have to change our routine a little bit. JPII played very well, they deserved to win the game as much as we did. We were certainly very fortunate to have won.”

Wyatt led FRA with 20 points. Sarah Galvin had 21 for JPII, and the hot-shooting Hale wound up with 20.

FRA visits David Lipscomb (7-2) Friday in an early showdown.

Both teams are scheduled to compete in the FRA Classic Dec. 26-30 in one of the top Christmas tournaments in the Nashville area.

BGA’s Beathard shines: Battle Ground Academy quarterback C.J. Beathard threw two touchdown passes to Columbia wide receiver Eric Belew in he second half and rallied the West team to a 20-14 win in the Toyota Classic all-star game Saturday at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City.

Beathard, an Ole Miss commitment, completed 14 of 20 passes for 145 yards. Belew, a Memphis commitment, was named the West’s offensive MVP with five receptions for 72 yards. His 30-yard touchdown reception from Beathard in the final quarter, broke a 14-14 tie.

McGavock defensive end Caleb Azubike, a Vanderbilt commitment, set a single-game record with 17 tackles plus a sack was named the West defensive MVP.

Maplewood’s Ladarius Vanlier led the West rushers with 26 yards in six carries.

Ex-BA star sets sail: Former Brentwood Academy star Jabaree Tuani had a great ending to a great collegiate career when he was the leading tackler for the Naval Academy football team.

Tuani, a team captain and Navy’s leading tackler, recovered a fumble, setting up the Midshipmen’s first touchdown in Saturday’s 27-21 victory over Army.

Last season, Tuani had his helmet knocked off, then chased down an SMU back, making a diving tackle and saving a 28-21 Navy victory. After the game, head coach Ken Niumatalolo dubbed him the “Relentless Warrior.”

“Without a doubt, Jabaree is the best defensive lineman we’ve had here,” Navy’s 10th year defensive coordinator Buddy Green said.

Another honor: Brentwood Academy senior lineman Graham Shuler is one of four national finalists for the high school Doc Blanchard Award, to be presented at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl awards dinner Jan. 6 in San Antonio.

Shuler, who was selected to play in the game on Jan. 7, is a Stanford commitment and a DII Mr. Football finalist in Tennessee.

Back to McCallie: Ralph Potter resigned last week after five years as coach at Brentwood Academy to return to coach his alma mater, McCallie.

Potter was coach at McCallie before he took the BA job in 2006. He compiled a 47-17 record after taking over the BA job in 2006, which included state finals appearances in 2006 and 2007 and two semifinals finishes.