Cooper, FRA reach DII-A boys final

Cooper, FRA reach DII-A boys final

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Cooper, FRA reach DII-A boys final

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Franklin Road Academy's Clarence Fayne (15) looks for an opening against Lausanne's Jesse Neloms (12) in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy’s Clarence Fayne (15) looks for an opening against Lausanne’s Jesse Neloms (12) in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy's Spence Jones (00) advances past Lausanne's Ashton Smith (20) in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy’s Spence Jones (00) advances past Lausanne’s Ashton Smith (20) in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy's Brennan Crook (4) drives past Lausanne's Jesse Neloms (12) in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy’s Brennan Crook (4) drives past Lausanne’s Jesse Neloms (12) in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy fans celebrate as the players exit the court after their DII-A semifinals victory against Lausanne at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016..

Franklin Road Academy fans celebrate as the players exit the court after their DII-A semifinals victory against Lausanne at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016..

Franklin Road Academy's Jack Doherty (13) shoots past Lausanne's Isaiah Stokes (15) and Adam Boyce (1) in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy’s Jack Doherty (13) shoots past Lausanne’s Isaiah Stokes (15) and Adam Boyce (1) in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy's Roland Stevens, right, and Lausanne's Adam Boyce chase a loose ball in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy’s Roland Stevens, right, and Lausanne’s Adam Boyce chase a loose ball in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy's Spence Jones, right, dives for the ball with Lausanne's James Babb during the DII-A semifinals game at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy’s Spence Jones, right, dives for the ball with Lausanne’s James Babb during the DII-A semifinals game at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy's Kenny Cooper (21) pushes past Lausanne's Rayshad Williams (4) in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy’s Kenny Cooper (21) pushes past Lausanne’s Rayshad Williams (4) in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy's Nick Murphy (3) fights with Lausanne's Rayshad Williams (4) for the ball in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy’s Nick Murphy (3) fights with Lausanne’s Rayshad Williams (4) for the ball in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy's Roland Stevens (12) and Kenny Cooper (21) celebrate after defeating Lausanne in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

Franklin Road Academy’s Roland Stevens (12) and Kenny Cooper (21) celebrate after defeating Lausanne in the DII-A semifinals at Lipscomb University on March 3, 2016.

The Franklin Road Academy boys basketball team used a dominating third-quarter effort to defeat Lausanne 57-51 in Thursday’s Division II-A semifinals at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena.

Senior Kenny Cooper tallied a game-high 21 points to lead the Panthers, who outscored the Lynx 18-4 in the decisive third quarter to help secure the program’s second state semifinal victory in three seasons.

“It always starts with defense,” said Cooper, whose team faced a 29-26 deficit at halftime. “The very first play of the third quarter Brennan (Crook) got a steal and we were off to the races.  Every third quarter this year where we’ve been down or it’s a close game, we take pride in our defense and come out with pressure.

“It turns into offense.”

Three consecutive 3-pointers from Lausanne junior Jesse Neloms provided the Lynx (18-11) with a little second-quarter breathing room — a 28-22 advantage with 1:16 remaining — but a driving layup by junior Jack Doherty, followed by a pair of free throws from Cooper, brought the Panthers to within three at the half.

Doherty, who did his best down low against Lausanne’s 6-foot-8 center Isaiah Stokes, finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and a block for FRA.

“Isaiah Stokes is a great player,” said the 6-foot-4 Doherty. “He’s a load down there, but I’m kind of used to it just from playing summer ball, seeing people his size and playing against them all summer.”

After establishing a 44-33 advantage after three quarters, the Panthers slowed things down in the fourth. That, coupled with Lausanne stepping up its defensive pressure, resulted in 18 fourth-quarter trips to the free throw line for the Panthers.

Crook, who finished with 16 points, knocked down 8 of 12 from the stripe in the final quarter.

“They were denying me the ball and making it hard on me, but I trusted my teammates,” Cooper said.

“We tried our best to prepare for it, their athleticism and pressure, but we had a hard time simulating that in practice,” added FRA coach John Pierce. “We did a great job of handling it in the fourth quarter.

“I felt like it was never going to end.”

The Panthers will play Harding Academy in Saturday’s 3 p.m. championship game at Lipscomb University.

Reach Michael Murphy at 615-269-8262 and on Twitter @Murph_TNsports

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