(Photo by Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press)
When Science Hill is hitting from the outside like it was Thursday evening, there’s no stopping the Hilltoppers.
That was the sentiment of Hampton coach Ned Smith after seeing the ’Toppers hit 60 percent from the field including 13-of-27 shots behind the 3-point line in a 94-55 blowout of his Bulldogs at the new Science Hill Gymnasium.
It was the season-opener for Science Hill, and for Calvin Songster. The 6-foot-1 senior shooting guard ended with 28 points, shooting 11-of-14, including 5-of-7 beyond the arc.
“Tonight, I really wasn’t feeling the shot,” Songster said. “But when it came off my fingers, it was going in. I couldn’t care less how it felt. I know we were sharing the basketball, and that led to some open shots. For us to come out the first game of the year and play like this, it was a good accomplishment.”
The Science Hill girls also won their home opener 58-32 over Hampton’s girls.
For the boys, it was a night that head coach Ken Cutlip found plenty to like on the offensive end. Besides a 48 percent night from 3-point range, the ’Toppers shared the basketball to the tune of 28 assists.
Two more players — Garrison Brown and Blake Begley — ended in double figures with 10 points each.
“I thought we had just an outstanding effort tonight by our entire group of kids,” Cutlip said. “The staples of the program have been playing hard and sharing the basketball. I thought we saw both of those things happen tonight.
“For as early as it is in the season, I thought we executed a lot of good things. I’m really proud of how this team has come together at this point.”
Both teams were missing some key players still in the football playoffs, but Hampton did have its leading returnees from a year ago, Cody McClain and Stanley Valentine.
McClain ended as the Bulldogs’ leading scorer with 18 points, but Valentine was limited to eight points and just a single field goal.
“He’s a very talented player, and I thought our team did a solid job not letting him get any lanes, and keeping him from the basket,” Cutlip said.
It was hard to keep a barrage of Science Hill players from the basket.
The Hilltoppers’ balanced attack consisted of seven players who scored seven or more points.
Hunter Hensley totaled nine points and seven assists, while Peyton Wingate also had nine points. In addition, Kaden Wampler scored eight points and Noah Charles finished with seven.
Hampton played later Thursday night at home against Sullivan North. Science Hill plays a Hall of Fame doubleheader at Johnson County on Saturday.