Science Hill coach Darrell Barnwell spent much of Thursday in the hospital and his junior point guard, Tianna Tarter, spent part of the second half of Friday’s game against Daniel Boone vomiting.
But Barnwell’s Lady Hilltoppers looked as healthy as a thoroughbred horse in a 75-40 win against the host Lady ’Blazers in a District 1-AAA semifinal Friday at Snyder Gym in Gray.
Science Hill (28-3), ranked No. 11 nationally and No. 2 in the state, advanced to play Tennessee High in the championship Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Tennessee High (24-4) defeated Volunteer in Friday’s opening game. Volunteer (18-14) will play Daniel Boone (16-12) in the third-place game Monday at 6 p.m.
Tarter scored 23 points, including 12 after her dash to the locker room in the second half, and made five of Science Hill’s 11 3-pointers. The junior point guard said she felt better after her and Barnwell’s returns to the court. Barnwell missed Thursday’s practice while being evaluated for high blood pressure.
“I was worried,” Tarter said. “Practice wasn’t the same. We just need our coach there.”
Boone used a triangle-and-two defense that focused on Shy Copney an Morgan Knack early, and the Lady ’Blazers hung around for 10 minutes.
Carey Jones’ 3-pointer cut Science Hill’s lead to 23-18 with 21â„2 minutes left in the first half. But Tarter answered with consecutive treys, the latter of which came via an offensive rebound and assist from Enjelica Reid, and 6-foot junior post Gabby Lyon’s 13-footer gave Science Hill a 31-18 halftime lead.
Copney (four 3- pointers) scored 10 of her 16 points and Reid had eight of her 15 while Science Hill stretched the lead to 21 points in the third quarter.
“They have awesome players and they play well together,” Boone coach Travis Mains said. “They’ve played a lot of basketball. Those kids live in the gym and it shows.
“The first half was great. They (the Lady ’Blazers) played hard. They got a little tired. Our young kids, they’re freshmen and sophomores that got thrown out there against a nationally ranked team.”
Senior Jenny Snyder led Boone with 14 points.
Knack (two 3-pointers) scored eight points. Lyon and Shae Smith added six and five, respectively. Smith had four blocked shots and Lyon rejected two.
Science Hill will quickly turn its attention to Tennessee High, which opened on a 17-1 run before losing 65-57 to the Lady ’Toppers last month in Bristol.
“As far as girls’ basketball goes, that’s a good rivalry,” Barnwell said. “Our kids know why we got off to the bad start and got behind 17-1. We just didn’t play well … and have the same energy Tennessee High had.”
Tarter is especially eager to compete against the Lady Vikings, and senior VCU signee Ashlee Mitchell.
“We always look at that (last Tennessee High game), because we played bad,” Tarter said. “Mitchell says she’s got a surprise for us, so we’re just gonna see what the surprise is. We’re gonna play hard.”
Tennessee High 78
The hard-driving, tireless Mitchell scored a game-high 23 points and Chloe Neil (17 points) made three of her five 3-pointers while the Lady Vikings opened the game on a 10-2 run.
Mitchell, a VCU signee, now has 1,802 points, moving her past Massachusetts senior Danielle Montgomery to third all-time among Lady Vikings scorers.
Guard Lindsey Overbey scored 13 of her 19 points to help keep the Lady Falcons within single digits (42-33) at halftime, but Tennessee High changed presses after intermission, forced 11 turnovers in the third quarter and built the lead to 63-44 heading into the fourth quarter. Mitchell had consecutive steals and lay-ups late in the quarter.
“This is her type of game,” Tennessee High coach Barry Wade said. “Whenever it’s on the line like this, she’s normally gonna step up – and we ask her to. We told them before the game, we wrote on the board: ‘Attack.’ And I told her, ‘I’m talking to you, you know, when we do this.’ And she said, ‘I know coach.’ … She’s the one that creates the openings for our threes, and that was big for us.”
Mitchell also made one of Tennessee High’s 10 treys. Stoops had three.
Volunteer, which was supported by a large, boisterous following, battled back to cut Tennessee High’s lead to 10 twice in the fourth quarter, including when Deanna Way (17 points) hit her fifth and final 3-pointer to make the score 66-56 with 4:33 remaining. But Mitchell answered with a pair of free throws and Neil assisted a 3-pointer by Kelsey Stoops (13 points) in the ensuing 30 seconds, and the margin was at least a dozen the rest of the way.
Tennessee High’s Ashley Byrd scored 10 points and Sheena Johnson added seven, including a 3-pointer that barely beat the first quarter buzzer for a 21-12 lead.
Wade embraces, if not relishes, the challenge of another shot at Science Hill.
“We’re gonna show up,” Wade said. “I just hope it’s a good game like it was at our place. They’re playing awful good right now. This is the time when they really shine, and hopefully we can match, you know, their tempo.”
Athletic, long 6-foot-1 sophomore Savannah Felgemacher scored 12 points for Volunteer.