Franklin Road Academy’s girls basketball team got out to a hot start in the DII-A state semifinals Thursday at Lipscomb University, but the Lady Panthers were unable to maintain their high offensive output as the game wore on.
Northpoint Christian matched or outscored the Lady Panthers in each of the final three quarters to knock off FRA 57-50.
“I felt like we were just trying to hang in there for the most part in the second half,” FRA coach Chris Hart said. “It caused us some problems and we couldn’t get (a shot) to go down.”
FRA (27-5) came out of locker room firing on all cylinders and used a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers to take an 18-16 lead after the first quarter.
“That’s the way we like to play,” Northpoint coach Barry Gray said of the hectic first-quarter pace.
But the pace wouldn’t last.
Both teams hit a wall in the second quarter as the scoring slowed down, but FRA maintained its two-point lead and took a 25-23 advantage into halftime.
The Lady Trojans (30-2) started the second half on a 4-0 run to secure their first lead of the game.
It looked as if FRA would once again have a two-point advantage at the end of the quarter after Catera Sawyers nailed a 3-pointer, but Northpoint’s Jade Wells sunk a layup as the time expired to send the two teams into the fourth deadlocked at 39-39.
Both teams traded buckets to start the fourth with Northpoint jumping ahead 46-43, but FRA tied it up once again at 46-46 on a Riley Casey 3-pointer.
FRA took a big hit after the made 3-pointer though, as Sawyers was called for her fifth foul and forced to join teammate Jessica Heldman, who also fouled out in the second half, on the bench for the remainder of the game.
“Catera is one of our best defenders,” Casey said. “It was aggravating when she fouled out because she really helps us on defense.”
Northpoint’s Ashtyn Baker took advantage of Sawyers’ absence and scored seven of her game-high 19 points in the final minutes to help the Lady Trojans pull away with an 11-4 run to end the game.
“I think this year we have all the right components we need,” Baker said. “We’re tough, we’re strong, we can score. In that sense, we’re not just coming up here to have fun; we’re coming up here to win.”
Northpoint will face off with the Webb School of Knoxville in Saturday’s 1 p.m. championship at Lipscomb University.
Reach Sam Brown at 615-259-8232 and on Twitter @SamBrownTN.