Tennessee High brought two game teams and enough fans to the ’Topper Palace to produce two intense atmospheres on Friday, but ultimately didn’t come close to producing one victory.
Science Hill’s boys made 17 of 19 free throws in the fourth quarter while pulling away for a 64-45 victory, and the Lady ’Toppers blew open a close game in the third quarter to win 69-46 and remain unbeaten on the season.
The No. 3-ranked Hilltoppers, who improved to 9-0 in the Big Eight Conference and 21-2 overall, trailed 28-19 with 6:15 left in the third quarter.
Tennessee High’s perimeter-oriented zone defense caused problems for Science Hill, which also missed some decent opportunities while shooting 20 percent in the first half.
Science Hill reserve Marc Aples keyed a 10-0 run late in the third quarter that gave the Hilltoppers a 34-30 lead. Aples started it with a 12-foot baseline jumper, and then made a transition follow on the ensuing possession after his knock-away started the fast break. C.J. Good, who scored 12 of his 13 points in the second half, capped the run when Aples found him for a 3-pointer that gave Science Hill a 34-30 lead with 2:37 left in the third quarter.
Hilltoppers coach Ken Cutlip congratulated Aples with an intensity that matched the game’s chippy atmosphere when he returned to the bench late in the third quarter. Cutlip also lauded a charge that fellow reserve Daniel Sweeney took.
“Those guys gave us a huge boost,” Cutlip said. “I told them it’s not how long you play, it’s what you do with the time you’re in. … We were struggling a little bit and they both made huge plays for us.”
Junior point guard Will Adams didn’t play as much as usual due to foul trouble. He was whistled for his third personal with 2:20 left in the first half, and picked up his fourth with 1:46 left in the third quarter.
But he made 6 of 6 free throws in the fourth quarter, a period when Zach Howard (5-5) and Hunter LeVeau (3-3) were also perfect.
LeVeau finished with nine points, eight rebounds and three steals. Tre’vonn Fields tallied 12 points, and Howard scored 10. Adams had eight points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals. Good had three assists and seven steals.
Twenty-seven turnovers were more than enough for the Vikings’ demise.
“I felt like our kids battled like crazy on the boards, defensively and made plays offensively; got second chances on rebounds,” Tennessee High coach Roby Witcher said. “But we had too many turnovers. You can’t give up your offensive possessions to somebody else, especially someone who can take it to the basket and score. …
“I think we slowed down a step (in the second half). I think we got a little fatigued.”
Austin Delph led the Vikings with 12 points. Adam Mitchell scored nine of his 11 in the first half, and most of those came in the post.
Tennessee High was held to three field goals in the third quarter.
“They’re a very good defensive team,” Witcher said. “They bring pressure all the time. … They’re a good basketball team. Last time I looked, they’re No. 1 in our league and No. 3 or 4 in the state, right?”
Science Hill’s Reed Hayes (eight points, four rebounds) didn’t return to the game after picking up a technical foul – his second in as many games – with 7:37 left in the third quarter.
The Vikings (6-3, 15-8) visit David Crockett on Tuesday. Science Hill hosts Volunteer.
Science Hill (girls) 69
Tennessee High 46
Shy Copney paced four double-digit scorers with a game-high 19 points and the second-ranked Lady ’Toppers opened the second half with a 20-6 run to break open a tight game en route to their 46th victory in their past 47 games dating back to December of 2010.
Morgan Knack capped the decisive spurt with a 3-pointer assisted by Enjelica Reid (10 points), who scored Science Hill’s first five points of the third quarter.
Tennessee High (7-2, 18-4) trailed 25-22 at halftime after Keely Easterling found a cutting Amber Godsey for a lay-up 12 seconds before intermission. And the Vikings’ deficit was down to a point when Easterling opened the third quarter with a transition basket.
But Knack and point guard Tianna Tarter each made two 3-pointers during the third quarter, which Tarter capped by catching a pass with three seconds left, pump-faking and taking one dribble before beating the buzzer with a 3-pointer that gave Science Hill a 53-37 lead.
“Obviously, it helps when you hit some threes,” Science Hill coach Darrell Barnwell said. “Morgan knocked down a couple there in the third quarter and Tianna hits the buzzer-beater.”
Tarter finished with 15 points. Sophomore post Gabby Lyon scored 12 points, including 4-of-4 foul shooting.
Easterling and fellow guard Ashlee Mitchell led Tennessee High with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
“They take so much pride in their program in everything they do, and you knew they were gonna come in here and give us everything they had,” Barnwell said. “They’re gamers. And they did a great job of mixing up their defenses and kind of keeping us off balance.
“Defensively, they took advantage of some things against us, and they were more physical than us in the first half. In the second half, it was just a matter of matching that intensity and physicality, and once we did that we started getting a few turnovers here and there and getting some easy baskets.”
Science Hill hosts Volunteer on Tuesday, and Tennessee High visits David Crockett.
A moment of silence was held before the boys’ game to honor former Tennessee High student Austin Arnold, a 16-year-old who died after an automobile accident on Jan. 13.