Science Hill’s home opener on Friday led to the same thing as its nine road games – a Hilltoppers victory.
Junior guard C.J. Good paced four double-figure scorers with 16 points, including four 3-pointers, and Science Hill methodically pulled away from Christian Academy of Knoxville for a 64-50 victory in the nightcap of the Double Tree Round Ball in the Palace.
In the other boys’ game Friday, Elizabethton (2-3) defeated Knox Webb 56-52 in the debut of head coach Len Dugger, who switched from the girl’s job to the boys after Tony Gordon’s resignation this week.
Science Hill hosts Webb tonight at 7. The Cyclones will play CAK at 5:30 p.m.
Science Hill was a little shaky early, but three 3-pointers from Good and eight points from Tre’vonn Fields helped it build a 32-27 lead at halftime.
Reed Hayes scored eight of 12 points in the third quarter, and Good’s steal and transition lay-up gave the Hilltoppers a 44-38 lead through three quarters.
Good opened the fourth period with a 3-pointer, and the lead was at least six the remainder of the game.
“It was the first game we’ve played at home and I thought we had a little bit of jitters in some of the stuff we were doing there in the first half,” Hilltoppers coach Ken Cutlip said. “We did a great job executing late in the game.”
After Dalton Keck made 1 of 2 free throws to cut Science Hill’s lead to 47-41 with 6:37 remaining, the Hilltoppers’ Fields started a 6-0 run by making 2 of 3 free throws. Will Adams followed with a 10-foot leaner, which came after an offensive rebound, and Zach Howard’s fast-break basket stretched Science Hill’s lead to 53-41 with 3:35 left.
Nothing seemed to come cheaply against a sound CAK team.
“They’re well coached and they’ve got some good athletes, and the stuff they do, they do well,” Cutlip said. “It was a good test for us.”
Fields (15 points) and Howard (12) each hit two 3-pointers, and Calvin Songster made a trey.
“When we’re shooting the ball well on the perimeter, it does make it very difficult,” Cutlip said. “The important aspect … is how those guys are getting those shots, and it’s because of how our team continues to move the basketball. They’re always looking to make the extra pass and find the guy that’s wide open.
“We stepped up in the second half. I thought we did a much better job on the boards in the second half.”
Will Adams had six rebounds and six assists for the Hilltoppers. Good had five rebounds and three steals. Fields and Hayes also had three steals apiece, and Howard had four assists.
Dalton Keck and Oteriah Lee scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, for CAK (3-3).
Knox Webb 52
Elijah Redd gave the Cyclones a 54-52 lead with a 3-pointer from the corner with 1.6 seconds left. Redd had inbounded the ball to post Aaron Miller (20 points) and quickly dashed to the corner for a return pass before making the game-winner.
“They just sort of lost him,” Dugger said. “Aaron Miller was our first option … and, of course, he did a great job of finding on the kick-out. And Elijah stepped up and made a big shot right there.”
Dugger coached the Elizabethton boys from 1979-94, and had helped make the Lady Cyclones a state tournament regular in recent years.
He got emotional alluding to the turn of events that culminated with Gordon’s resignation, Dugger moving over to Gordon’s job and athletic director Mike Wilson returning to the girl’s job he once held.
“This is one of those situations where you had a group of kids that believed in each other and wanted to go out and play their hearts out for each other,” Dugger said. “If I was going to give out a game ball, I’d have to give two. I’d have to give one to all the kids and I’d give one to (assistant) coach (Craig) Emmert, because he was very instrumental in what went on out there tonight. …
“I have really hurt about it too, because I had to leave a team that I sincerely loved. And I really felt like those girls were turning the corner, and I loved them to death. But they’re going to do a great job.”
Justin Wandell also scored 20 points for the Cyclones.
Burton Sampson, a 6-foot-4 junior wing, scored 27 points for Webb. He finished an interior leaner with the left hand to tie the score at 50 with 1:02 left, and after Miller made 1 of 2 foul shots with 37 seconds remaining, Sampson made a difficult move in the post look routine while giving Webb a 52-51 lead with 22 seconds remaining.
But it only set the stage for Redd. After his trey, CAK threw an inbounds pass into the bleachers with 1.6 seconds left, forcing it to foul before Elizabethton could inbound the ensuing possession.
So with 1.6 seconds still remaining, Miller made both of his free throw attempts to seal it.
Miller’s 15-foot bank shot had given the Cyclones a 50-48 lead with 2:42 left. The shot which might have made you think of Tim Duncan, touched nothing but net coming off the backboard.
“He’s a very talented offensive kid,” Dugger said. “We had some kids to do some things there tonight that they don’t normally get down and do as much of. I was very pleased with the way they responded under the conditions they were playing under. As I said, I think that’s just a testament to their character, and what they really want out of their basketball team.”