|Fayette Academy's Amber Johnson (left) tries to keep the ball from defender Franklin Road Academy's Derica Wyatt during the Division II Class A girls' semifinals at Lipscomb University in Nashville. Fayette Academy lost 39-27.|
Miss Basketball finalist Derica Wyatt scored 21 points and freshman Kennedi Bell made some big buckets down the stretch to help Franklin Road Academy defeat the Lady Vikings, 39-27, in the BlueCross Division 2-A girls semifinals Thursday at Allen Arena on the campus of Lipscomb University.
“There was a lot of pressure on these girls just to make it back to state,” said Fayette Academy coach Rick Sullivan after watching his team end the year with a 29-2 mark. “And this year, they didn’t want to just get back. They wanted to win it.”
Fayette Academy had a good chance to win Thursday. The contest, a one-possession game for much of the way, was tied at 27 midway through the fourth period. But FRA (31-4) closed the game on a 12-0 run thanks to Wyatt, who was 8-of-8 from the free-throw line, and Bell, who scored all eight of her points in the final period.
The Lady Vikings went ice-cold down the stretch and didn’t score a basket over the final 5:26.
Samantha Reeves, who is headed to Christian Brothers University next season, had 12 points and seven rebounds to lead the Lady Vikings; younger sister Emily, a junior, chipped in with nine points. And that was part of the problem, according to Sullivan.
“We didn’t have anybody else step up,” he said. “These two (the Reeves sisters) were carrying us. And (FRA) is so long ... it was tough to get any open shots.”
FRA’s length helped it win the rebounding battle, 35-25, including 13-3 on the offensive end. Wyatt, a 5-10 junior, had eight to lead all players.
“We were fortunate that they shot the ball as poorly as they did in the first half,” Sullivan said.
Wyatt, who is up for Miss Basketball with Harding’s Kaylah Keys and Kaylan Pugh of St, Mary’s, struggled with her shot, going just 5-of-22, 3-of-13 from beyond the arc. But in a tight, low-scoring game, every shot counted and she made enough to keep FRA’s season going.
Fayette Academy can reflect on another outstanding season. The Lady Vikings are 58-4 over the past two years.
“We’re not a basketball powerhouse,” said Emily Reeves. “We couldn’t have made it this far on talent alone. We made it because we love each other and we’re a family.”