KINGSPORT – Dobyns-Bennett presented Science Hill with big problems for a half, but the Hilltoppers quickly countered.
Science Hill opened the third quarter on an 11-2 run after leading 34-32 at halftime and pulled away for a 74-57 victory Friday at the Buck Van Huss Dome.
It was the 45th straight Big Eight Conference regular-season victory for the Hilltoppers (4-0, 15-1). D-B fell to 3-1 in the league and 4-1 overall.
C.J. Good scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half, and fellow senior guard Will Adams scored six of his 17 points on a pair of 3-pointers via assists from Patrick Good during the decisive spurt at the beginning of the third quarter.
The Indians piled up the majority of their 29 turnovers after intermission, including a handful at the beginning of the half, helping Science Hill trump size with speed and energy.
The Indians’ 6-foot-7 Connor Mitchell scored eight of his 17 points in the second quarter, including a pair of dunks.
“We were playing (hard); their size was hurting us,” Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip said. “And we talked about how we had to get more pressure (in the second half). I thought we had to get more heat on them as they were bringing the ball up the floor. They were very, very methodical there in the first half working against our press.
“We knew they were gonna block some shots and obviously they did, and we knew they were gonna dunk it and obviously they did. … We felt if we could wear them down there would be a point where we would have a little more success.”
The Hilltoppers eventually held their own on the boards. Senior 6-foot-2 forward Reed Hayes (14 points) got five of his six rebounds on the offensive end. One led to C.J. Good’s fourth and final 3-pointer, which gave Science Hill a 62-52 lead with six minutes left.
The Indians were on a 10-0 run before Good’s trey. Mitchell had four points and assisted a three-point play to 6-foot-3 Tyleke Love (17 points) with an interior pass during what turned out to be the Indians’ last gasp.
“I think it (fatigue) was (a factor), going up and down that quick,” D-B coach Charlie Morgan said. “Science Hill forces you to do that. I probably didn’t do a very good job rotating some of our guys. …
“We didn’t quit. We kept battling there.”
Calvin Songster, a 6-foot junior guad, scored nine of his 11 points in the second half for Science Hill. He scored four points in six seconds to give the ‘Toppers a 57-40 lead with 52 seconds left in the third quarter.
Marc Aples assisted a cutting basket for Songster, who then got a steal and a stuff. The determined Songster also got to the foul line four times in the second half – the Hilltoppers attempted six the entire game and D-B shot nine foul shots – once a hard drive.
“I thought Calvin Songster had a great second half,” Cutlip said. “I asked him to give a spark to us coming off the bench in the second half, and I thought he really gave phenomenal effort and made some big shots, got some huge offensive rebounds.”
Aples had eight points and four rebounds, and opened the second-half scoring with a tough, turnaround bank shot over Mitchell.
“Marc Aples had a huge game for us,” Cutlip said. “He just does an unbelievable job getting out there and competing for us.”
C.J. Good had five assists. Adams had six rebounds and four steals. Patrick Good, a freshman, also had four steals.
“We looked like Santa Claus out there tonight,” Morgan said. “We’s just giving away candy, and of course, they scored on our turnovers. We just didn’t do a good job. Our inexperience showed there.
“I thought we hung with them pretty good there in the first half, and came back out and I think we had about three or four straight turnovers before I could get a timeout. And I thought that was the difference in the game.”
Science Hill hosts Cleveland on Friday and Oak Ridge on Saturday in the Kia Shootout.
Science Hill (girls) 79
Dobyns-Bennett (2-1, 5-2) has made strides, but doesn’t appear ready to keep pace with the Lady Hilltoppers anytime soon.
Tianna Tarter scored nine of her 16 points in the first quarter and Science Hill made quick work of Dobyns-Bennett.
Science Hill (4-0, 10-0), ranked No. 3 in the CBS MaxPreps national poll, also got double-figure scoring from forward Enjelica Reid (14) and posts Gabby Lyon (13) and Shae Smith (10).
Smith made two free throws then got a steal and assisted Keisha Gregory’s transition basket to give Science Hill a 20-7 lead, and Tarter’s stick-back made it 22-7 just ahead of the first-quarter buzzer.
Steals and transition baskets were the norm for the veteran, talented Lady ‘Toppers.
“You’re talking about kids that have a lot of experience playing with each other over the last three years and have been in a lot of big games and a lot of situations,” Science Hill coach Darrell Barnwell said. “Obviously, this is a big rivalry game anyway. That’s what we talked about before the game: This is D-B/Science Hill. You can’t get up for this game, you know, you can’t get up for anybody. So I was glad to see our kids come out with a lot of intensity in the first half.”
Science Hill maintained its edge in the second half. Four different players scored the first four baskets, triggering a 15-0 run to begin the third quarter. Four straight points from Reid made the score 61-19 with 4:28 left in the third quarter.
“That’s good for us to keep that intensity going,” Barnwell said.
It was especially obvious on defense. D-B, which was led by guard Sasha Morrisette (13 points) and post Alex Anderson (10 points), had more turnovers than points for much of the game.
“They (the Lady Indians) have been scoring well,” Barnwell said. “We did a pretty good job most of the night of keeping Sasha from getting to the basket. I know she had a few there in the second half – spin moves, getting to the basket. But for the most part, especially in the first half, we did a great job of keeping her from getting to the basket.
“I think they’re averaging about 60 points a game. We hold them to 19 in the first half. I thought our defense was excellent.”
The fourth quarter was played with a continuous clock.
Science Hill plays Smyrna on Friday at Murfreesboro Riverdale, and plays Riverdale on Saturday. Riverdale beat Science Hill in the state championship game last season.
“I think our kids are excited about going down there,” Barnwell said.