ELIZABETHTON — When a team has players like Tianna Tarter and Gabby Lyon, sometimes there's not a lot of defensive options for the opponent.
Science Hill's dynamic duo scored the team's first 32 points of the game, and the Lady Hilltoppers eventually worked their way to a 65-52 victory over Elizabethton on Friday night at Treadway Gym.
It was the 19th straight win to start the season for Science Hill while the Lady Cyclones fell to 12-3 with two of their losses coming against the Hilltoppers.
Tarter and Lyon were simply dominant. They not only scored the first 32 points, but had just about every assist in a stretch that lasted until the 2:57 mark of the third quarter.
It was an overall impressive display for Tarter, who finished with 26 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals.
“There are some Division I players who aren't as effective off the dribble as her,” said Cyclones' head coach Len Dugger.
Tarter had eight of her points on back-door assists from Lyon.
“We executed our back-door stuff better than we have in a long time,” said Hilltoppers' head coach Keith Turner.
Lyon finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Turner said his team turned a 10-minute pregame walkthrough into a major advantage. Science Hill's strategy of overplaying Elizabethton's high ball-screen offense completely locked down the Lady Cyclones' in the first half.
“The girls worked on it for about 10 minutes during the walkthrough,” said Turner. “I felt that was the key to the game, getting them out of their pattern that we call 'Utah' or that old Karl Malone-John Stockton thing. I was really pleased with our defense.”
Despite the superb defense by the Hilltoppers, the Lady Cyclones were able to stay close as Science Hill missed numerous easy shots and some free throws. The Hilltoppers led 24-15 at the break.
Science Hill opened the second half with a 15-8 spurt, pushing its lead to 16 points. Elizabethton answered with a strong finish to the third quarter, and the 9-2 run made it 41-32.
The Cyclones got as close as eight points at 50-42 with 3:53 left in the game, but Science Hill quickly popped off seven straight points to end any doubt.
Elizabethton got 18 points and five rebounds from Kayla Marosites. Kelci Marosites added 13 points while Emily Kiser chipped in with nine points and three assists. Sarah Robinson totaled 11 rebounds.
“I thought we were a little lethargic and not very aggressive, and (the Hilltoppers) do a good job,” said Dugger.
Still the Lady Cyclones scored the second-most points of any team against Science Hill this season.
“I thought the second half was much better,” said Dugger. “It's still not up to what we're capable of doing.”
It was a grow game for both teams, said Turner.
“These are two of the best teams in East Tennessee,” he said. “It's a good game, and we need to play more often.”