Cutting down nets seemed to be an afterthought. A brief team photo session appeared to be more obligatory and than celebratory.
After scoring 21 points and winning her second straight district tournament MVP trophy, senior point guard Tianna Tarter politely said the award was the least of her concerns at the moment.
“It’s something I can tell my kids when I get older,” Tarter said.
Junior wing Keisha Gregory, who made five of the Lady ‘Toppers’ 12 treys en route to 19 points, was wrapping up the postgame chit-chat because there was homework for school yet to be done.
And there was no pretense in the postgame atmosphere, or lack thereof, for a team that secured its fourth straight 30-win season. Overall, Science Hill (30-0) has won 44 of its last 45 and is 136-9 since Tarter and 6-foot post Gabby Lyon became freshmen. Back-to-back state runners-up finishes were preceded by a state semifinals appearance in 2011.
First-year coach Keith Turner wasn’t surprised by the low-key demeanor of second-ranked Science Hill, which will host Seymour in the opening round of the region on Friday at 7 p.m.
“That’s the way the girls have been all year,” Turner said. “They have their goals set. I mean, this is something down the road you’ll be able to look back and celebrate, but right now we’ve just gotta focus on advancing, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Dobyns-Bennett hung around for a quarter, but Gregory hit back-to-back treys while Science Hill took a 27-12 lead by opening the second quarter on a 12-2 run. Gregory added two more 3-pointers as part of her 13-point quarter, and Science Hill led 36-17 by halftime. The Lady Indians were no closer than 18 the rest of the way.
Tarter scored seven points in the first quarter. She finished with three 3-pointers.
“She’s just a gamer,” Turner said. “Yesterday, she gets to practice early, shoots extra. Today, same thing. You know, after we watch film she says, ‘Coach, can I take the film home.’ So I mean, it’s business for her.”
Joining Tarter from Science Hill on the all-tournament team were Gregory and Lyon.
“Keisha stepped up tonight,” Lyon said. “She’s been stepping up late in the season. I’m really proud of her and hopefully she’ll continue to do that in the postseason.”
Lyon and Baylee Head had six points apiece. Head’s came via a pair of 3-pointers. Grace Herrin and Abbey True were among the five to make at least one trey for Science Hill.
“When you have … five different people hit threes that makes it easier,” Turner said. “Keisha, probably the last 10-12 games, she’s really stepped it up.”
Turner said he told Gregory several weeks ago that he needed more productivity from her.
“She said, ‘okay,’” he said, “and I mean, she’s done that, you know, shooting the ball, handling the toughest defensive assignment most of the time.”
Science Hill takes pride in defense. Dobyns-Bennett (20-9) was the 23rd of 30 opponents this season to fail to score at least 40 points.
“We’ve gotta thing in our locker room; it’s called the Under 40 Club,” Turner said. “They put it up there every time. That’s just a nice little motivational thing.”
There’s still another gear for the Science Hill defense, according to Tarter.
“I feel like we need to play better defense,” said Tarter, who presumably was the reason East Tennessee State coach Brittney Ezell was talking to Turner after the game. “We’re still a step slow … in my eyes. I think we can be better on defense, more pressure.”
Turner was pleased with the 6-foot-1 Head, a forward, as well as reserve post Miracle Aples, a 6-foot-1 junior who hit a turnaround bank late in the first quarter and powered her way to a three-point play to open the second-quarter scoring.
“Baylee Head’s put a streak of a couple of weeks here – she doesn’t always score, but she’s playing with more confidence,” Turner said. “You see some of those passes she zipped in there to Gabby were money. And then, of course, you’ve got Miracle that came in there again and did some positive things.”
Point guard Sasha Morrisette, a tireless, athletic competitor, led D-B with 17 points.
“It’s somebody that’s almost the same speed as me,” Tarter said. “She goes after the balls and everything else just like me.”
Forward Cortney DePew and post Alex Anderson added nine and eight, respectively, for the Lady Indians, who will host Morristown East (14-16) on Friday.
Volunteer 60, Daniel Boone 54, OT
Lindsey Overbey scored 14 points and made all 10 of her free throw attempts, including 6-for-6 in overtime, and the Lady Falcons made 25 of 28 at the foul line while outlasting the Lady Trailblazers to seal the district’s No. 3 seed.
Volunteer will visit Morristown West (26-3) Friday, as the top-seeded Lady Trojans were upset 59-50 at Jefferson County.
Daniel Boone will travel to Jefferson County (19-10) on Friday, and won’t have to beat Science Hill to clinch a sectional berth. Not that anyone would accuse coach Travis Mains and his Lady ‘Blazers of having tanked on Monday.
Hard-driving Autumn Bradshaw scored 13 of her team-leading 16 points after halftime for Boone (19-13). Jaclyn Jenkins and Taylor Carmichel added 13 and 12, respectively.
Carmichel made four of Boone’s five 3-pointers.Her final one got the Lady Trailblazers within 56-54 with 1:31 remaining.
“Taylor was very good tonight,” Boone coach Travis Mains said. “She played a good game. … We just didn’t finish. We led about the whole game.
“It hurt that we don’t finish real well around the rim. If you can’t score inside you’re gonna have problems winning.”
Junior post Savannah Felgemacher led Volunteer (26-9) with 15 points. Her basket with 1:18 left in regulation concluded the scoring before overtime. Boone held the ball nearly all of the final 60 seconds in regulation.
Freshman Josie Salyer scored 13 points, including a 3-pointer that opened the overtime scoring and gave the Lady Falcons the lead for good. Felgemacher followed with a 13-footer that made it 53-48 with 3:08 to go.
Volunteer will visit Morristown West on Friday.