Toppers vs Vikings Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press
’Toppers turn back Vikes
Today at 7:09 PM
Tennessee High’s zone defense is perennially pesky, but speedy Science Hill’s perimeter attack and pressure defense were too much for the Vikings on Tuesday.
The Hilltoppers forced 20 turnovers and made nine 3-pointers, helping them offset a combined 41 points from Tennessee High frontcourt players Adam Mitchell and Chase Branscomb for a 66-52 Big Eight Conference victory at Science Hill.
The Hilltoppers (3-0, 11-1) got four 3-pointers and 18 points from C.J. Good and fellow guard Will Adams also made a trey and had five steals en route to 17 points.
The 6-foot-7 Branscomb scored 12 of his 20 in the first half to keep the Vikings (0-2) within single digits at halftime (29-22).
But Adams opened the second half with a steal and a layup and 3-pointer from the left corner and Calvin Songster capped the 8-0 run with one of his three treys from the top of the key to give the Hilltoppers a 37-22 lead.
The closest Tennessee High got after that was 55-44 on a pair of free throws from the 6-foot-4 Mitchell (21 points) with 4:42 remaining.
“I thought we started the first and third quarters really well,” Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip said. “That was important starting both halves that way. I thought we did a good job defensively early in both halves. Marc Aples did a good job defensively. They’re a tough matchup for us.”
After Tennessee got within 11 on Mitchell’s free throws with 4:42 left, Science Hill freshman Patrick Good answered seven seconds later with a pull-up 15-footer that triggered an 8-2 run which C.J. Good capped with a 15-footer from the elbow with 2:38 remaining.
Tennessee High coach Roby Witcher said his Vikings came in averaging around 12 turnovers. They had also been shooting free throws well before missing 15 on Tuesday.
“We’ve been shooting free throws and we miss 15 tonight,” Witcher said. “If we make free throws … and don’t give up a couple of easy baskets we do (have a chance). … But Science Hill’s good and they’re deep … and they shoot it, don’t they?”
Reed Hayes had 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals for Science Hill. C.J. Good had three steals. Adams had six rebounds.
Science Hill had the first six fouls whistled against it in the third quarter, and had two technicals assessed to players during the period.
“Our fire’s gotta come from effort; it’s not gotta come because we’ve opened our mouth, no matter how frustrated you are,” Cutlip said. “That was disappointing. … And they’re a good basketball team. They’re really good at what they do. I thought we played really good in some spurts. I give credit to Tennessee High.”
Science Hill hosts CAK on Friday. The Vikings visit David Crockett.
Science Hill (girls) 80
Tennessee High 43
The Lady Vikings seemed to outscrap the Hilltoppers during the opening half, but still trailed 49-28 at intermission thanks, in part, to sophomore combo guard Keisha Gregory.
She made five of her six 3-pointers in the first half and finished with six 3-pointers as the Lady Hilltoppers improved to 3-0 in the Big Eight Conference while coasting past Ashley Mitchell-led Tennessee High.
Mitchell, an athletic lead guard who has signed with VCU, led all scorers with 21 points, but was 11-20 at the foul line.
Gregory finished 6 of 7 from 3-point range, and her miss – the final attempt in the fourth quarter – was halfway down before it spun out.
“In practice, Keisha she shoots the ball extremely well, but in games she really hadn’t been,” Science Hill coach Darrell Barnwell said. “So it was good to see her step up tonight and knock them down. … We shot the ball well and defensively, I thought we played pretty solid. … Tonight it came down to hitting shots against a 2-3 zone and we’re probably gonna see a 2-3 zone on Friday when CAK comes in here.”
Gregory led the Lady ‘Toppers with 18 points. Point guard Tianna Tarter (nine assists) and lanky wing Baylee Head added 14 apiece. Tarter and Head each made two treys, as did Morgan Knack. Emanda Reid (nine points) also made a 3-pointer.
Kelsey Stoops scored eight points for Tennessee High, which crashed the offensive boards and drove with determination.
“They did a good job of attacking the basket and being aggressive on the boards,” Barnwell said. “And we didn’t do a great job of boxing out. I thought we did a much better job of that in the second half and limited them a lot more.”
Science Hill was without Shy Copney, who returned from a March knee injury to play in a win at Sullivan South on Friday. Barnwell said she didn’t aggravate the injury on Friday.
“Nothing wrong from Friday night,” Barnwell said. “She’ll be back out there Friday and Saturday (against CAK and Knox Webb, respectively) getting some minutes trying to work herself back into that game shape we need her to be in.”