BRISTOL — Science Hill made it interesting for a while in the fourth quarter, but ultimately presented little threat to Memphis Melrose in an Arby’s Classic first-round game Wednesday night at Viking Hall.
Senior guard Will Adams made four 3-pointers en route to a game-high 24 points for the Hilltoppers and roused a near-capacity crowd, but Melrose was too tall of a hurdle to clear — especially after opening the game on a 29-7 run.
Science Hill outscored Melrose 44-26 for two-plus quarters and would’ve been within 55-54 if C.J. Good’s 3-pointer hadn’t rattled out with five minutes remaining, but faded to a 65-53 defeat.
Melrose 6-foot-7 senior Terry Winn had 20 points and 10 rebounds and 6-foot-6 junior Jamerrio Jones had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Golden Wildcats, who out-rebounded the considerably shorter ‘Toppers 36-17.
Winn’s weak-side put-back made it 27-7 with 6:33 left in the second quarter, and Science Hill (17-2) couldn’t defend his interior basket that stretched the lead to 22 on the ensuing possessions.
Melrose (11-2) was athletic and long, and made perimeter shots early. Winn has signed with Northern Arizona and point guard K.C. Goodwin signed with Southern Illinois.
A variety of Hilltoppers looked tight on early perimeter shots, and interior opportunities were hard to generate.
“We weren’t ready to play,” said Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip, who elected not to take a timeout during the early barrage. “I didn’t see the same intensity, you know, focus that I’m used to. … Must’ve done a poor job getting them ready to play tonight. …
“Now, Melrose can make you look slow. I don’t want to take anything away from their speed or anything like that, but there was a point where we could run with them.”
Science Hill had difficulty getting looks from within 25 feet due to Melrose’s active zones. Most of Adams’ shots, including a couple of 3-pointers, came via the dribble.
Melrose coach Jermaine Johnson remembered Adams and Science Hill’s top perimeter threat, C.J. Good, from the 2009 Arby’s tournament when Melrose won the title. Johnson stressed covering up Good after his catches on the perimeter.
“Will Adams was their point guard the year we won it,” Johnson said. “Good probably played 15 or 20 minutes. So those guys are used to these environments. …
“If you take away Adams, the buckets he made, we beat them by 30. And he made some tough shots.”
Marlon Hunter, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, had 16 points and eight rebounds for Melrose. Donte Fitzpatrick, a 6-foot-5 guard, scored 11 points.
“I’ve got big guards … and then we’re athletic on the perimeter,” Johnson said. “So we’re gonna crash the boards.”
Good had nine points on 3-of-7 3-point shooting. Freshman teammate Patrick Good had a team-high four assists. Adams had a team-high five rebounds.
Science Hill will have to rebound — literally and figuratively — against Virginia Episcopal, the program where former teammate Trevonn Fields transferred to in August.
Episcopal, which lost to Oak Ridge 57-54 in Wednesday’s finale, takes on Science Hill on Friday at 10:30 a.m.
“This is obviously a learning experience,” Cutlip said. “We have great kids. They’ll bounce back.”
Former Science Hill players Jaylen Allen and Shannon Hale will play tonight when defending-champion Christ School (Arden, N.C.) takes on Sullivan East at 7 p.m.
Melrose is without Memphis signee Markel Crawford, a 6-foot-5 guard, until January. Crawford tore an ACL last summer.