Tianna Tarter has driven Science Hill’s basketball program into the fast lane the past three and a half seasons, and she’s finding another gear for the homestretch of her career.
The 5-foot-6 senior point guard scored 26 points to help the second-ranked Lady Hilltoppers pull away from fired-up Daniel Boone for a 59-43 victory Tuesday at Snyder Gym.
It was the 47th straight Big Seven Conference regular-season win for Science Hill (9-0, 24-0). Daniel Boone (15-9) fell to 4-4 in the league.
Tarter is averaging 26.8 points in her past six games, and unless in transition, she’s still relatively reluctant to be the first option.
“The thing of it is, she still keeps everybody else involved,” Science Hill coach Keith Turner said. “It’s not like they’re ball-hog points. They’re hustle plays, rebounds, run-outs, 3-pointers. She’s just an unbelievable player.”
Tarter made two 3-pointers, two conventional treys and 6 of 7 free throws. She made floaters in the lane, driving lay-ins via hesitation moves and perimeter jumpers via cross-over dribbles. She also cut backdoor for a layup on a bounce pass from post Gabby Lyon.
And Tarter did a lot of it against the solid resistance of Allison Littleton.
“Tianna Tarter is just a really special player,” Boone coach Travis Mains said. “She had 26 points and I thought she had 10 or 12 and I thought Alli did a really good job on her. But when it’s time to take over the game she just kind of took over the game. Alli did a really good job on her and she had 26 points. …
“Tarter’s tough. She’s played a lot more basketball than our girls have and she’s got a different gear.”
The Lady Trailblazers made it interesting for three-plus quarters. Sophomore forward Jaclyn Jenkins scored six of her 11 points as Boone built a 16-9 lead through one quarter.
Accurate perimeter shooting from Science Hill, particularly in the second quarter, proved invaluable.
Grace Herrin scored all seven of her points in the first half from the perimeter. Herrin made one of Science Hill’s four treys in the second quarter. Baylee Head, Keisha Gregory (12 points, four steals) and Tarter also each made 3-pointer in the period, helping Science Hill take a 32-28 halftime lead.
Littleton scored a team-high 15 points for Boone, the majority of which came on aggressive drives to her left.
“Alli’s really worked on her game and has become a good player,” Mains said.
Littleton’s steal and transition drive that included a behind-the-back dribble forced Gregory’s second foul with 1:19 left in the first quarter, and Gregory picked up her third foul with 3:05 left in the first half. Littleton drove for two straight baskets, including a three-point play, to give Boone a 33-32 lead with 5:32 left in the third quarter, but Tarter scored seven of Science Hill’s next nine and the lead was 44-37 by the end of three quarters.
“They played harder than we did for the majority of the game,” Turner said, “but we found a way to make some plays. … We got beat off the dribble way too much. (Littleton) drove in and got us in foul trouble. They attacked.
“With these girls – sometimes the success that they’ve had – they think they can turn it off and on. And a lot of times they can, but when you get a team playing with maximum effort like Boone did, plus getting to the basket and getting to the free throw line – we were fortunate to hit shots.”
Lyon, a 6-foot senior post who’s signed with Middle Tennessee State, scored six of her eight points in the fourth quarter. She had four assists and two blocks.
Autumn Bradshaw (seven points) and Taylor Carmichel (five points) scored all of their points in the first half. Katlyn Cox had five points too, including a driving basket that tied the score at 37 with four minutes left in the third quarter.
Boone only played six players, and Mains said fatigue was especially apparent on some missed box-outs late.
“I was happy with the effort after the debacle at Volunteer,” Mains said. “We played hard. … I was happy with the effort.”
Turner was thankful for Boone’s effort, too.
“That’s good for you to have some games like that late in the year, because once you get to tournament time every possession counts,” Turner said. “And you know, we’ve gotta realize that.”
Science Hill hosts Sullivan Central on Friday. Boone will host Central Tuesday in a game originally scheduled to be played at Central.