Science Hill is getting an assist from the return of Hunter LeVeau — and seemingly every other player.
The Hilltoppers handed out a season-high 25 assists and Zach Howard scored 16 of his game-high 27 points in the third quarter of an 84-50 victory at Daniel Boone on Friday.
Science Hill improved to 5-0 in the Big Eight Conference and 17-1 overall.
Back-to-back driving baskets from Ryan Gaitor got Boone within 22-21 with 2:53 left in the first half, but Science Hill responded with eight straight points from LeVeau and a steal and lay-up from Will Adams to take a double-digit lead it wouldn’t relinquish in the final 18 minutes.
The Hilltoppers put on a clinic — at least everywhere but the foul line (13-26) — with spacing, movement, passing and shooting that, among other things, led to some crowd-pleasing backdoor cuts for lay-ups.
Howard made 6 of 9 treys and had three assists. Reed Hayes had 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Still moving gingerly in his fifth game back after seven months off (knee, back), LeVeau nonetheless had 11 points and three blocked shots. C.J. Good had nine points and seven assists, and Adams had four assists and three steals.
It all left Boone coach Ryan Arnold successfully searching for compliments.
“They’re probably more athletic and better … but they remind so much of the way my team last year played,” Arnold said. “They don’t care who scores; they just want to get the job done. It’s unbelievable how they do. …
“They can just all score it. There’s usually not anybody they put on the floor that you can say, ‘Hey, we can help off him.’ Because if you give almost all of them just a little room, they’re gonna knock down the three.”
Howard scored 16 points in a 41â„2-minute stretch of the third quarter, helping the Hilltoppers expand a 42-30 lead to 65-36. The primary highlight was when he finished a backdoor cut and pass from Good with a two-handed dunk.
Hayes was similarly impressive in stretches, spinning in transition and reversing for put-backs.
“We’ve got six or seven kids that can have those type of games,” Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip said. “This team knows when somebody’s hot and they get them the ball. They find that guy. I thought our team did a great job of finding that guy tonight.
“They don’t care who scores and they have a great feel for where their teammates are and setting their teammates up.”
Gaitor, an impressive sophomore guard, led Boone (1-5, 5-11) with 19 points. Jacob Littleton added 12.
“We’ve gotta learn from it,” Arnold said. “This is the first game we really got challenged like this with the press and stuff.”
Science Hill visits Greeneville tonight. Daniel Boone is at Happy Valley on Monday.
Science Hill (girls) 63
Daniel Boone 44
The Lady Hilltoppers sputtered for a while without sophomore point guard Tianna Tarter, but their undefeated record never appeared to be in jeopardy.
Science Hill coach Darrell Barnwell said Tarter’s right knee has been hurting since the semifinals of last week’s Landair Classic title run, but an MRI was negative. In fact, he expects her to play some tonight when Science Hill (5-0, 17-0) visits Greeneville.
The Lady ’Toppers managed a balanced attack without their athletic catalyst. Morgan Knack and Gabby Lyon scored 12 points apiece, and Shy Copney, Baylee Head and Enjelica Reid each scored nine.
Jordan Bacon led the Lady Blazers with 15 points, and her 3-pointer in transition — via an assist from Natalie Sheffey — tied the score at 14 with 7:15 left in the first half.
But Science Hill responded with a half-ending 26-6 run, which was capped by an assist and then six straight points from Shae Smith, who also had three blocks on the night.
“I think we ended up shooting 31 percent, but their team played well,” Barnwell said. “I thought we played very well in the second quarter, but came back out in the second half and just didn’t seem to have any intensity. ....
“I thought the group we put in that played the last four or five minutes did a great job and played hard. Shae Smith did a great job on the boards tonight.”
Barnwell didn’t relish the task of playing at Boone after winning the stout holiday tournament, especially with his “floor general” sitting beside him in streetclothes.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well, and a lot of that had to do with Daniel Boone,” Barnwell said. “They played good defense, mixed defenses up and kind of kept us out of rhythm. It’s a tough first game coming back as good as they play defensively.
“I think they’re headed in the right direction and they’re gonna push to be in that upper echelon of the conference before it’s over with.”
Kathleen Casey scored 10 points for Daniel Boone (2-3, 6-7), including 6-of-6 free throw shooting.