A second quarter slump was too much for the Franklin County Rebels basketball team to overcome, as they lost on Tuesday night to the Columbia Central Lions 73-65 in the District 8-AAA Championship game.
The loss marks the second consecutive year the Rebels have placed second at the end year tournament.
Columbia’s Lions scored the opening two points of the game, but it was the Rebels taking charge early.
Following the Lions two points the Rebels answered with an 8-0 run that included two three pointers from Rebel senior Tyler Schaub.
The Rebels charge caused the Lions to take a timeout to try and kill the momentum. Resettling down, the Lions came back to tie things up at 9-9 shortly after the timeout.
Rebel guard Matt Schmitz retook the lead for the Rebels on the ensuing possession with a three-point shot 12-9. At the end of the first quarter the Lions took the lead, for the first time since the opening shot, 15-14.
Second quarter play was much like the first through the first few minutes, before Columbia began to take charge.
Trailing by eight points 35-27, Franklin County took a timeout with a minute remaining before the half.
Columbia wasn’t finished though, outscoring the Rebels 7-0 over the final minute of the half, and entered halftime leading 42-27.
“We had a tough time guarding them, and their points guard (Brandon Levier) gave us a lot of problems.” Rebels coach Jeff Taylor said after the game.
Coach Taylor also noted penetration and trouble with help defense contributed to the Rebels struggles.
Entering the second half of play, the Rebels wouldn’t be deterred. To start the third quarter the Rebels outscored the Lions 6-2, and began to find a rhythm.
After being outscored in each of the first two quarters, the Rebels chipped back into the game in the third outscoring the Lions 19-12.
At the start of the fourth quarter the Rebels, once trailing by 15 points, trailed by just eight points.
Throughout the remainder of the game the Rebels got within six points, but continued to hit a wall at that point.
“We just couldn’t get over that six point mark,” said Coach Taylor of his team’s comeback efforts.
Playing till the final buzzer, the Rebels gave there all, coming up just short 73-65.
Schaub led the Rebels, and the entire game in points scored with 23 points.
Schmitz also came through, scoring 18 points.
The Rebels loss was softens maybe a little bit when the post-season awards were announced.
Making the All-Tournament team for the Rebels was Schaub and Schmitz. Fellow senior Montrez Vanzant was named to the All-District 8-AAA team.
Franklin County also brought home the top two awards of the night.
Schaub capped off his remarkable year by being named as the District Most Valuable Player.
Navigating the Rebels to their best regular season in the last five years, coach Taylor was named as the district’s Coach of the Year.
Coach Taylor and the Rebels aren’t through yet though, as they will enter the Region 4-AAA tournament now as a second seed.
The Rebels are set to host LaVergne High School tomorrow night at Franklin County High School.
This will be the first time the Rebels have played Lavergne this season, but coach Taylor remembers them all too well.
Four years ago coach Taylor, while at Tullahoma, faced Lavergne in the first round of the region tournament.
Lavergne has four seniors that Taylor says have garnered playing time since their freshman year.
The Lavergne Wolverines boast an overall record of 20-9, which is very similar to the Rebels 21-11 record.
Tip-off of the game is tomorrow evening at 7 p.m.