Deliberate Sevier County helped lull Science Hill into a malaise that the Lady Hilltoppers never fully escaped, but ultimately they weren’t threatened in a Region 1-AAA quarterfinal victory Friday at Science Hill.
Senior forward Enjelica Reid paced four double-digit scorers with 16 points and second-ranked Science Hill sputtered to a 55-33 victory.
The Lady ‘Toppers (30-3) will play Morristown West (21-9) in the semifinals Monday at 6 p.m. at Daniel Boone. They can clinch a substate berth with a victory in that one.
Science Hill must pick up the pace for a third straight extended postseason run. Sevier County’s spread offense produced several lengthy possessions and foul trouble for the Lady ‘Toppers.
Post Gabby Lyon was whistled for two fouls in the first 3:06 and backup post Shae Smith rolled her left ankle and left the game 77 seconds after Lyon’s second foul. And Science Hill was already without key reserve combo guard Keisha Gregory, who sprained her left ankle in the district championship game Tuesday.
Science Hill players appeared to know they could just show up and win. Throw in the foul trouble and injuries, and the Lady ‘Toppers were suddenly mired in a funk that left their fans anxious when the Bearettes entered the second quarter trailing only 11-7.
“Well, it sure did come off like that, didn’t it,” said senior wing Morgan Knack, who made two 3-pointers and finished with 10 points. “We did not intend, necessarily, to do that. I don’t think we came into it thinking that in our minds, but sometimes when you hear, like, ‘the four seed from the other district’ and things like that … in your mind it’s like, ‘Oh, we can take a break.’”
Tianna Tarter, a junior point guard, scored seven of her 12 points in the second quarter, and senior Shy Copney made a step-back 3-pointer a couple of seconds before the halftime buzzer to stretch Science Hill’s lead to 25-12.
Lyon scored six of her 10 points in the third quarter when Science Hill put the game away. Science Hill’s lead was in excess of 20 the final 9:50. Sevier County made four second-half field goals, the same number Science Hill allowed Tennessee High in the district championship win on Tuesday.
Lady Hilltoppers coach Darrell Barnwell thought one of the keys was switching from man-to-man defense to half-court traps to stymie Sevier County’s stall-minded spread.
“They did it last year when we played them in the first round of the region,” Barnwell said. “It was just a matter of us trying to get things sped up just a little bit, and we went to our half-court traps and we did. We just didn’t finish very well on the offensive end tonight, missing lay-ups and had some turnovers in transition – things like that that we’ve got to clean up … so we don’t miss those opportunities on Monday.”
Post Brittany Tarr scored 12 points to lead Sevier County, which ended the season 15-18. Tarr scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and finished 10 of 12 at the foul line. Taylor Chapman added 11 points.
Sevier County coach Stacy Marine discussed Tarter’s talent in the transition game, and began seemingly calling the roll while touting ‘Toppers.
“We knew every time we turned it over they were gonna score,” he said. “They’ve got us every way you can look (personnel wise). … We knew Reid was a rebounder and a penetrator, and we let her get a couple of offensive boards at times. Her athleticism – it’s just hard for us to match up with them. You’ve got 52 (Lyon) who’s so big and strong in there. And then you’ve got 14 (Enjelica Reid) that’s so athletic on the boards. And then you’ve got 44 (Shy Copney) that’s a big body that’s hard to get around. I mean, they’re just tough. That’s all you can say. They’re a great team.”
Knack and Lyon were recognized before the game for scoring their 1,000th career point in the past week.
“I had no idea,” a smiling Lyon said. “They just surprise us.”
Milestones are the least of their concerns at the moment.
“It’s probably something I’ll think about more 20 years from now,” Knack said. “Right now, like, when I was in the locker room I totally forgot that had even happened, because I’m – we’re just all very focused on our goal right now.”
Smith returned to the game for Science Hill. Barnwell doesn’t expect Gregory to be able to play Monday, but said she might be ready Wednesday should Science Hill advance to the title game.
The Lady 'Toppers edged Morristown West, 47-46, in the season opener at Science Hill. Copney was still recovering from a knee injury and missed the game, as did Reid, who was nursing an ankle sprain.
West used a lot of box-and-one to shadow Knack. Tarter scored 24 points and made five 3-pointers in the Lady 'Toppers first game in their new gym.
"Enjelica and Shy were still out," Barnwell said, "and they ran a gimmick defense, which obviously was very good. And I think we were a little nervous. It was the very first game in the new gym. … It’ll be a good challenge for us."