After a physical, hard-fought first half, the Lady Hilltoppers held Dobyns-Bennett to two second-half field goals while dashing off to an 82-36 Big Seven Conference victory Tuesday at Science Hill.
Senior point guard Tianna Tarter had 24 points, five rebounds, four assists and what must’ve been at least five or six of an exorbitant number of steals for the Lady ‘Toppers (2-0, 8-0), who kept their seventh opponent in eight games from scoring at least 40 points.
The Lady Indians (0-1, 4-2) were well ahead of pace at halftime, trailing 35-26, but made one field goal in the first 13:36 of the second half.
“The girls really turned it up and tried to play hard defense,” Science Hill coach Keith Turner said. “They’re taking pride in trying to hold people under 40. That’s our goal every game. We’ve only given up 40 one time, and that was against Grainger.”
Science Hill struggled early against D-B’s zone defense. The Lady Indians sagged off of Grace Herrin, opting to aggressively double-team post Gabby Lyon, and Herrin was hesitant while missing three early 3-point attempts.
But no one could ignore Herrin’s contributions when slugfest turned to knockout.
She scored 11 straight points during a two-plus minute spell spanning halftime and made three of her four treys during the spurt, which she capped with a steal and layup.
It was one of three straight steal-and-layup baskets for Science Hill early in the third quarter, which included six such buckets in all. Senior post Gabby Lyon (eight points, six rebounds, four blocks) had two of the end-to-end scores.
Herrin finished with 14 points and displayed some toughness while going hard to the floor for a tie-up that left tempers all but boiling.
“I’m proud of Grace for stepping up after she missed some,” Turner said. “She kept her confidence up after missed some and knocked them down.”
Science Hill made 13 treys. Junior combo guard Keisha Gregory scored all nine of her points in the first half on 3-pointers and tallied four assists while handling her usually tough defensive assignment.
Baylee Head scored seven points, and Abbey True (two 3-pointers), Miracle Aples (eight rebounds) and Sydney Whiteside (two 3-pointers) scored six apiece. Aples, a 6-foot-1 junior center, ended up getting two free throws on the seventh opportunity of an epic possession in the second quarter.
It was a pivotal time late in the second quarter. Tarter went to the bench with two fouls and Science Hill leading 25-15. D-B promptly got within 25-22 thanks to seven straight points from tireless hard-nosed guard Sasha Morrisette, but Aples and Herrin scored the ‘Lady Toppers’ final 10 points of the half to stretch the lead back to nine.
Turner said Herrin, Aples and Gregory just so happened to have shown up in the gym for a 6:30 a.m. shooting session on Tuesday.
“They haven’t been shooting as well as they’ve wanted to,” Turner said. “That says a lot about them putting in the extra time. … Miracle Aples played big there coming off the bench. In the first half she played great.”
Morrisette led D-B with 23 points. She was 13 of 17 at the foul line, though she was limited to four free throw attempts and four points in the second half.
“We came out the third quarter and made three straight turnovers and then we just kind of felt sorry for ourselves and a wheel ran off,” D-B coach Roger France said. “I thought we played hard and competed in the first half. In the second half we didn’t do that.
“You can’t do that against a good team or they’re gonna treat you just like they did. We didn’t play very hard … in the second half at all.”
Science Hill visits Tennessee High on Friday, while D-B hosts Sullivan South.