Tennessee High exposed Science Hill in the post and stopped the Streak.
Senior forward Adam Mitchell had 17 points and four blocked shots and post Chase Branscomb scored nine of 15 points in the second half as Tennessee High emphatically ended the Hilltoppers’ 61-game Big Seven Conference wins streak with a 59-44 victory Tuesday at Science Hill.
Tennessee High’s zone defense stifled Science Hill early and often. The Hilltoppers scored one point in the first quarter, and needed Hunter Hensley’s buzzer-beating 25-foot pull-up to reach 15 points by halftime.
Science Hill cut a 12-point halftime deficit to 29-23 on Daniel Sweeney’s mid-range bank with six minutes left in the quarter, but the 6-foot-7, 240-pound Branscomb answered with an interior basket that started a 12-0 run.
Science Hill was no closer than 14 points in the fourth quarter.
“They’ve got as good of a Tennessee High team as I’ve seen in the last 10 years,” Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip said. “They’ve always been a difficult team to play against when you’re behind, and once … we came out and missed shots early and they got the ball inside and scored effectively and put us in a hole, they’re a tough team to come back on. …
“I thought we were a step slow, and in this game, if you’re a step slow you’re beat. … We were tentative to shoot the basketball. We were not aggressive offensively attacking the zone, pushing the basketball.”
Stopping Science Hill’s streak was gravy for the Vikings, who are more concerned about rallying for a conference title. First-place Science Hill is 5-1 in the league. The Vikings (15-5) are 5-2.
“Coming in to the game we weren’t really worried about the streak,” Branscomb said. “We were just worried about conference play. … We were just worried about coming in here and getting a win.
“I mean, it’s a great win. I haven’t beat them ever. It’s just great for me and my team to be a part of that.”
Tennessee High’s preseason goal was to win the league.
“Coming in to this game, we believed we could win,” Tennessee High coach Roby Witcher said. “The kids executed on the floor.”
Forward Daniel Sweeney scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half to lead Science Hill. He made two 3-pointers.
Calvin Songster made three treys en route to 15 points.
A disappointed Cutlip took a moment to reflect on 61 straight league wins.
“For as long as it’s lasted, it’s amazing in that regard,” Cutlip said. “And for our kids to, night in and night out, be able bring it and find a way to win is, you know, just a testament to the kids over the last five years. And I felt like this team represented our other teams extremely well in the first half of this league play in winning the games that they did to actually extend the streak to where it is at this point. Many people didn’t give this group a chance to even come close to stringing together the wins that they have in the conference.”
Science Hill visits preseason favorite Dobyns-Bennett on Friday.
Science Hill (girls) 66
Tennessee High 35
Seniors Tianna Tarter and Gabby Lyon stuffed the stat sheet as the second-ranked Lady Hilltoppers (6-2, 22-0) won their 46th straight regular-season conference game.
Tarter tallied 24 points, seven steals and four assists. Lyon, a 6-foot post, scored 20 points despite frequent double-teams. She also had 10 rebounds, four blocks, three steals and three assists.
“She really was aggressive, getting in there and mixing it up and going after the rebounds. I told her, ‘Gabby, as long as you put forth that effort, good things are gonna happen.’ … She got steals. She led the break. She was very active tonight.”
Junior wing Keisha Gregory scored 12 points, including the Lady Hilltoppers’ lone 3-pointer.
Forward Sheena Johnson led Tennessee High with 10 points.