With everything else being equal, Franklin Road Academy knows that Kessler Bell's presence in the low post is a luxury.
The rugged 6-foot-5 Bell poured in a game-high 19 points to go with 11 rebounds as FRA knocked off reigning state champion Donelson Christian Academy 59-40 Tuesday night in a Division II-A matchup.
With Bell muscling in eight first-half points, the host Panthers (12-3, 4-0) took charge late in the second quarter, built a 28-20 halftime lead and led by as many as 21 points. Freshman Kenny Cooper contributed to the advantage and scored all 10 of his points the first half.
Once Bell got the ball deep in the post area, he was virtually unstoppable.
"My teammates got the ball to me for some good looks, and once they double-teamed the post, I was able to pass it out where they were able to get open shots,'' Bell said. "We were pretty consistent, and we played some good defense.''
Bell has signed with Flagler, of Augustine, Fla., noting that his AAU team played there, and "once I saw the campus and met the guys, I loved it."
Chance Bouldin added 14 points. Guard Dalton Ponchillia, who scored eight, hit consecutive 3-pointers, building the lead to 40-24. Junior Rob Marberry added six.
"Any time you're playing the state champ, you know you'll have to play well,'' coach John Pierce said. "DCA is always a tough game, and they are well-coached. Kessler definitely gives us a presence inside.''
It was an early January matchup of two teams ranked in the Division II top 10.
"They (FRA) are very good, and their depth was a big difference in the game,'' DCA coach Pressley Ramsey, whose team meets Mt Juliet Christian Friday, said.
The Wildcats are without Carson Outlaw, one of their leading scorers, who has an ankle injury. Ramsey is hopeful he will be back in three-four weeks.
"In the meantime, we just need to get back to work. We can't rest on what we did last year, we just have to buckle up and go,'' he said.
Point guard Joshua Joy and center Clay Hertel led DCA (12-3, 1-2) with 11 points each each.
• In the opener, Oklahoma signee Derica Wyatt scored 24 points and led FRA to a 49-12 victory. The Panthers improved to 14-2, 4-0 and meet University School of Nashville Friday.