FRANKLIN – Hillsboro had to dig deep in Thursday’s Region 6-AAA semifinal against host Franklin, but the battle-tested Burros ultimately came out on top.
In a game that featured 13 lead changes — three in the overtime period alone — Hillsboro held on for a 62-55 win over the resilient Rebels.
“I didn’t have anything to do with that win,” Burros coach Rodney Thweatt said. “That was purely their heart and determination. They’re a family and they proved that on the floor.”
Hillsboro will square off with Brentwood in Friday’s Region 6-AAA final at 7:30 p.m. Regardless of the outcome, both teams are guaranteed a sectional berth.
“They’re mature; they’re grown now,” Thweatt said. “They were young early in the year and we went back and forth trying to figure out who we were. I think they’ve figured it out now.”
Franklin’s Zach Muir, who finished with 11 points, connected on a contested 3-pointer with three seconds remaining — one of four Rebel treys in the final three minutes of regulation, forcing overtime.
“I was just thinking, another shot?” Hillsboro senior Donovan Donaldson said. “After three in a row?”
Muir’s triple knotted things up at 51-51, but the Burros (21-10), led by Thomas Smith’s 17 points and eight rebounds, responded in overtime, outscoring Franklin 11-4 in the final four minutes to secure the victory.
“I just put my part in and did what I had to do,” said Davis, who fouled out with 3:15 left in overtime. “Coach told me to sacrifice for my team and my brothers, and that’s what I did.”
In addition to a crucial fourth-quarter 3, Donaldson, who tallied 16 points in the win, connected on 4-of-5 foul shots in the closing minute. The 6-foot senior also knocked down 3-of-5 shots from beyond the arc.
“I knew I had to do something for my team, being a senior,” Donaldson said. “I knew I had to knock something down.”
Senior Garrison Mathews finished with 17 points for Franklin (16-13), but the 6-foot-5 Lipscomb signee was whistled for his fifth foul with 1:50 left in regulation. Mathews’ absence put the Rebels in a difficult situation down the stretch — a situation they nearly overcame.
“It’s something we’ve talked about for two years, building mental toughness and playing through adversity,” Franklin coach Jamie Wilson said. “When you hit that wall, fight through it. Do not let that wall stop you, and they didn’t. Unfortunately we ran out of time.”
Franklin senior Joe Critchlow contributed 13 points in the loss, while Tanner Spalding added eight.
Brentwood 63, Independence 61: Independence provided Brentwood with a late scare in Thursday’s semifinal, but the Bruins held on in the closing stages.
Brentwood (27-5), led by senior Jalen Lawson’s 24 points and six assists, strung together an 11-0 run to start the final quarter, but the Eagles stormed back, pulling to within 57-55 on senior Austin Obsborn’s four-point play with 3:46 remaining.
Osborn finished with 18 points for Independence (19-15), while sophomore Grayson Murphy tallied a team-high 22.
Reach Michael Murphy at 259-8018 and on Twitter @Murph_TNsports.