Science Hill’s Lady Toppers made things interesting Friday night, but remained undefeated after pulling out a 61-58 victory against Christian Academy of Knoxville in the opening day of Round Ball in the Palace.
Sophomore post Gabby Lyon made a put-back that was believed to have given Science Hill a 60-58 lead with 4.3 seconds remaining. Actually, the Lady Toppers were already leading 59-58 before her crowd-rousing shot, but it wasn’t realized by the official scorer -- or on the scoreboard -- until after Lyon’s basket. A point had been taken off Science Hill's score on the scoreboard earlier in the quarter.
Science Hill improved to 8-0 despite sophomore point guard Tianna Tarter fouling out with nearly seven minutes remaining.
CAK (4-3), which got a game-high 30 points from Brianna Bryant, built a 16-6 lead in the first quarter thanks to a zone defense that stymied a passive Science Hill.
Still, Tarter’s driving basket with 14 seconds left in the first half cut the deficit to 24-21 by halftime.
CAK led by as many as eight (52-44) with 3:35 remaining. Lyon’s two free throws with 3:14 left cut the Warriors' advantage to six points, and Copney parlayed a steal into two foul shots to shrink CAK’s lead to 52-48 with 2:59 to play.
It was 52-50 after another steal led to Copney’s crowd-pleasing, double-clutch baseline floater via an interior pass from freshman Keisha Gregory.
Morgan Knack finally drew the Lady Toppers even thanks to a steal and layup with a little more than a minute left.
Moments later – after CAK had stretched the lead to 57-54 – Knack made a 3-pointer on an assist from Copney.
From there, Enjelica’s Reid’s transition basket and Lyon’s put-back were the difference.
“Fortunately for us, we made some plays there in the last two or three minutes and were able to pull out a win,” Science Hill coach Darrell Barnwell said. “I thought our kids did a good job of getting their composure and stepping up, and it came down, I think, to rebounds. We rebounded a lot better in the second half. We didn’t give them those second and third opportunities like they were getting in the first half.
“Hats off to them (the Warriors); they played extremely well. No. 25 (Bryant) played unbelievable. She handled the ball well, didn’t seem rattled.”
It was a strange game, which began with CAK’s zone defense sending Science Hill into a malaise that it battled much of the first three quarters.
Science Hill’s offense wasn’t all that was having an off night. As mentioned, the official scorebook shorted Science Hill a made free throw with some three minutes left in the game, and Barnwell didn’t realize a charge call against Tarter that wiped away what would’ve been the fourth quarter’s first basket – and a 41-40 Lady Toppers lead – was her fourth foul. She fouled out with a little less than seven minutes remaining, and Bryant’s two free throws gave CAK a 44-39 lead.
Science Hill entered shooting 45 percent from behind the arc, but missed 18 of 22 3-pointers.
Lyon finished with 16 points. Reid had 10, and Morgan Knack and Tarter added nine and eight, respectively.
CAK got 14 points from Kaycee Heitzman.
“That’s the first time we’ve been challenged as far as a game being close in the fourth quarter,” Barnwell said. “It’s the kind of game we needed. It shows us we need to come out ready to play all the time, and there’s still a lot of things we need to work on.”
The Lady Toppers visit Dobyns-Bennett on Friday.
Wise-Central (Va.) 66
Tennessee High 52
Allison Mullins and Hayley Wyrick scored 14 points apiece as Wise-Central (Va.) improved to 4-0. Central also got 10 points from Ashley Mullins.
Tennessee High (5-2) lead guard Ashlee Mitchell scored 22 points. She was 4 of 7 at the foul line, the lone Lady Viking to attempt a free throw.
Tennessee High plays CAK today at 4 p.m.