Oak Ridge had Science Hill on the ropes Saturday night, but might’ve punched itself out.
The host Hilltoppers outscored Oak Ridge 36-20 in the final 9:56 to take a 69-64 victory in a Kia Shootout matchup that had the feel of a substate game.
Senior guard C.J. Good scored 14 of his 16 points and made all four his 3-pointers in the second half. He made two 3-pointers during a 19-4 spurt which gave the ‘Toppers (17-1) a 52-48 lead with 4:48 remaining.
Freshman Patrick Good capped the run with a 3-pointer from the left corner, and fellow freshman Ian Martin started it with a tip-in after Oak Ridge had taken a 44-33 lead with 1:56 left in the third quarter.
Patrick Good assisted C.J. Good’s final trey, a swish in transition from the left corner that gave the Hilltoppers a 61-54 lead with 2:42 left.
Oak Ridge (9-2) got within three points twice in the final 63 seconds, but the Good brothers each made a pair of free throws in the final 28 seconds to seal it.
“We stuck those shots when we finally got ‘em,” Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip said. “And that’s big. When you get an opportunity you’ve gotta seize the moment. … We turned down some good shots for great shots in that fourth quarter.”
Oak Ridge got 27 points from athletic wing Jaylin Henderson and 21 points from 6-foot-6, 215-pound post Isaac Merian.
“We had some kids step up, but I think the biggest difference was (C.J.) Good in the second half,” said Oak Ridge coach Aaron Green, who played at Tennessee. “We hold him to two points in the first half – I think he’s averaging around 18 – and we let him get four threes in the second half, and that’s the difference in the game.
“That’s the type of kid I have a lot of respect for, because he works at the game. You can tell he’s spent a lot of time in the gym. That’s how I was when I played. I respect guys like that, and he earns and deserves the right to make a lot of those open shots.”
The Wildcats (9-2) were playing without Rashad Gray (illness), who had eight points in their 68-38 win against Dobyns-Bennett on Friday night.
“I thought we ran out of gas a little bit with the lack of depth, because we play a lot of people like Science Hill does,” Green said. “I thought we got a little bit tired there in the middle of the third and I thought that led to some of our breakdowns defensively when they made their run. But they’ve got a really good team. They’re well coached. They’ve got great kids.
“We got up 11 in the third quarter, uh, and you don’t feel comfortable with that at all playing them. And I knew they’s gonna make a run. It was a heck of a ballgame … and two really good teams.”
Science Hill’s Reed Hayes had 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. His last basket – via an assist from Patrick Good – came in transition moments after his last steal.
The Hilltoppers’ Marc Aples had 10 points and four rebounds. Calvin Songster scored six of his 10 points on 3-pointers. Will Adams had a team-high four steals and was 4-4 at the foul line. Patrick Good also made all four of his free throws.
Overall, the ‘Toppers were 10-12 at the foul line.
“We did an outstanding job at the free throw line,” Cutlip said. “We had multiple kids step up down the stretch and hit free throws. … This is one of those, I told the kids, it was a gut-check. … We just stepped up and I thought our crowd really stepped up and was huge for us in the fourth quarter.”
Science Hill next plays Memphis Melrose in an Arby’s Classic opener. Oak Ridge is also at Arby’s, and will open against Curtis Staples’ Virginia Episcopal, which has Science Hill transfer Trevonn Fields.
Should Science Hill and Oak Ridge, each win or lose, they’ll play again in five days. Cutlip and Green would rather play a rematch in March.
Guard Thomas Palmer paced five double-figure scorers with 13 points as the Indians improved to 7-2.
Josh Holt, Connor Mitchell and John Fulkerson scored 12 points apiece, and sophomore point guard Makale Foreman had 10.
Mitchell assisted a cutting Palmer’s lay-up with a high-post bounce-pass for a 57-51 lead with 1:36 left and Foreman’s two free throws made it 59-51 with 1:16 remaining.
Jahmal Johnson led Cleveland (7-3) with 10 points.