BLOUNTVILLE — Science Hill just concluded its first undefeated regular season in girls’ basketball, but Coach Darrell Barnwell is making intensity a point of emphasis for the postseason.
Sophomore point guard Tianna Tarter missed the District 1-AAA opener against David Crockett on Monday at Sullivan Central’s Dickie Warren Dome after missing a practice, and Barnwell wasn’t any happier after an offensive rebound that led to a Crockett basket with 36 seconds left in the first quarter.
So Barnwell took a timeout — the Lady ’Toppers were leading 17-6 at the time — expressed his displeasure with his team’s effort rather adamantly, and Science Hill raced off to a 90-33 victory.
Science Hill (30-0), which clinched a regional berth with the win, plays Sullivan South (20-10) on Friday at 6 p.m. The fifth-seeded Rebels eliminated Volunteer (16-15) in Monday’s nightcap.
“Now’s the time for us,” Barnwell said. “We don’t need to be sloppy. We’ve got to fine-tune some things. … We can’t give up a lot of second opportunities. There was one time there, I think, they got two or three shots at the basket.”
Sophomore post Gabby Lyon scored nine of her 22 points in the third quarter while the Lady Hilltoppers stretched a 24-point halftime lead to 70-26.
Science Hill’s offense looked more fluid than it did when Tarter missed a game earlier in the season with a sore knee, which Barnwell said was part of the reason she didn’t play Monday.
Freshman Keisha Gregory ran the offense with poise. Shy Copney made three 3-pointers and finished with 19 points, and Morgan Knack and Enjelica Reid scored 14 points apiece.
“I thought tonight we did a much better job (without Tarter),” Barnwell said. “I know they played a zone, but I thought we moved the ball and got the ball in good spots. We got the ball inside a lot to Gabby and Shay and Jay (Enjelica). …
“I thought Keisha came in and did a great job offensively and defensively, and the whole group kind of stepped up and picked up the pace, especially in the third quarter.”
Knack made four 3-pointers for the second straight game. Shae Smith had nine points and two blocked shots. Reserve wing Bailey Head also had two blocks.
Junior guard Sara Shipley led Crockett with 11 points. She made two 3-pointers, although it appeared she was credited with another 3-pointer by the referees that was ruled a two. Senior Keri Blevins scored nine points.
“I’m really glad that Keri went out and … she was really aggressive and had a really good game defensively and offensively,” second-year Crockett coach Rebecca Muncy said. “She’s one of our seniors going out. So that was good for her to be aggressive. Of course, Sara’s coming back and going to be coming into her senior year. So that’s a good way for her to shoot and get some confidence against a really good team.”
Muncy’s Pioneers finished the season 6-24. Shipley (back) and Kelsey Persinger (ACL) missed substantial time during the season.
“We struggled last year and won two games, and this year we won six,” Muncy said. “So that’s a big improvement and something we definitely are proud of. … We don’t match up very well against Science Hill, but I don’t think, really, anybody does at this point.”
Sullivan South 72
Courtney McKenzie made two straight 3-pointers that gave the Lady Rebels a 58-50 lead with 4:45 remaining — the second one was a pull-up in transition from the left wing — and they pulled away with accurate free throw shooting.
South’s Kayla Tipton made 15 of 17 fouls shots en route to 23 points. McKenzie scored 16 points.
Volunteer’s Ashley Lindholm made 13 of 14 free throws and finished with 18 points. Deanna Way led the Lady Falcons with 19 points.