Any transfer of power in the Big Seven Conference is still a work in progress.
Science Hill overcame 28 points from former Hilltoppers point guard Patrick Good and 15 from fellow Science Hill transfer Brendan Coleman for a 74-65 victory on Tuesday at Science Hill.
It was the 60th straight regular-season Big Seven Conference victory for Science Hill, a streak all the more astounding when considering the attrition its endured.
Shannon Hale (Alabama) and Jaylen Allen (Wofford) left for Christ School (Arden, N.C.) after the 2010-11 season. Trevon Fields went to Virginia Episcopal (Lynchburg) prior to last season.
The Hilltoppers would be considerably better with Coleman and Good, who combined for all 16 Crockett points in the fourth quarter on Tuesday. In fact, Good was instrumental as a freshman last season in Science Hill’s victory against Fields’ Virginia Episcopal in the Arby’s Classic.
The 6-foot-5 Coleman, a long-armed southpaw sophomore, is already a versatile weapon, and the 5-foot-11 Good creates his own shot as well as any area player.
“They’ve got two outstanding players,” Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip said, “that were here last year that would be playing right here for us.”
The Crockett transfers were created by even more attrition. First-year Pioneers head coach John Good, Patrick’s father, was an invaluable assistant on Cutlip’s staff before accepting the Crockett position last spring.
Adding to the awkward setting for Crockett’s visit Tuesday, Good’s staff includes Science Hill Hall of Famer Damon Johnson and Tony Gordon, who was University High’s head coach when Science Hill assistant Ryan Collins was his point guard.
And for a while it looked like Science Hill’s streak would be shot down by those who helped build it. You could argue that Patrick Good tried to do too much late while Science Hill closed the victory with a 17-3 run, but you could also argue he’s already the league’s best player. He scored nine of Crockett’s first 10 points, including an impressive 15-foot pull-up and a difficult 7-foot leaning bank in the initial 52 seconds.
“I felt relieved,” Good said. “If I’d started off bad I probably would’ve felt like I had to force something to get it going or whatever. ... It was probably the hottest start I’ve had all year. It felt good coming where mine and my dad’s home used to be.”
Other than the outcome, Good was happy to be playing against many of the players he’s played with and against since elementary school.
“It kind of felt like a practice, honestly — knowing all of those guys and playing for them,” Good said. “Like Ian (Martin) and them, I’ve played with them ever since I was little. I don’t know, it felt weird playing against them, but then again, I liked it. So it wasn’t like a hate relationship. It was just whoever wants it more will get it, and I guess they ended up with it last night.”
Science Hill’s leading scorer, Calvin Songster, came up and greeted coach Good with an emotional hug outside the locker room minutes after Good’s game plan had made Songster labor for three field goals.
“Obviously, Science Hill’s a big part of my life, but it’s not about me,” John Good said. “It’s about our kids and I love the kids in both locker rooms.”
Science Hill junior post Kaden Wampler’s career-high 20 points and Malik McGue’s play at both ends of the court down the stretch were the difference. McGue’s defense helped wear down Good late, and he scored nine of his 16 points in the second half and had six assists in the final 8 1/2 minutes.
“I like playing against him, especially in practice last year, because we’d just go at each other and stuff like that,” Good said. “He can defend well and make the hustle plays that you need, and he can knock down shots when you need to like last night and make clutch free throws. ... I love all of those guys. They’re just good people to be around. Obviously, we both wanted to win. I don’t know, it was just a good feeling being out there — even though we were on opposite teams — playing with them again and competing.”
Wampler enjoyed going against his former teammates, which included some gamesmanship with Coleman.
“Me and Brendan kind of jokingly got into it,” Wampler said. “Me and him kind of went at it. We did that in practice when they were both here. We kind of smack talked at the beginning, but then the game got serious. ...
“I love Patrick, Brendan and Coach Good. Coach Good’s a great coach. Patrick and Brendan are great players. It was a fun, competitive game.”
The Big Seven has never looked more wide open. Science Hill, Dobyns-Bennett, Tennessee High, Crockett and Daniel Boone all have to feel capable of victory on any given night.
And yet, Science Hill has managed to beat all four of those teams the first time through the schedule.
Of course, the streak never seemed more vulnerable than it did for 3 1/2 quarters on Tuesday.
“Night after night the kids in this program have taken it upon themselves to carry the load — whoever it falls on (after attrition),” Cutlip said. “We were struggling (against Crockett). We were struggling shooting the basketball, and this was one of those nights where you’re like, ‘Boy, I don’t know if we’re gonna find a gear to get this thing.’ I’ve gotta give a ton of credit to our players, because ... they didn’t give in.”