BLOUNTVILLE — Tennessee High helped create a drought for Science Hill on Saturday, but the 3-pointers eventually rained down in the Dickie Warren Dome.
Science Hill senior wing Zach Howard made two 3-pointers in a 16-second span of the third quarter after the Hilltoppers had gone 6:20 without a field goal, and they pulled away for a 70-43 victory in the District 1-AAA semifinals.
Science Hill (29-2) will play Sullivan South (17-13) in the championship game on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The Rebels upset Dobyns-Bennett 67-65 in Saturday’s second game.
D-B (16-10) and the Vikings (20-11) will meet in the consolation game at 6 p.m.
Tennessee High had cut an 11-point Science Hill lead to five (37-32) before Howard caught a skip pass from Will Adams and made a trey with 2:42 left in the third quarter. Moments later, after a Reed Hayes steal and a pass from C.J. Good, the trailing Howard swished a trey in transition to restore the 11-point lead.
The Hilltoppers stretched the pair of perimeter jumpers into a quarter-ending 13-0 run to take a 50-32 lead. Hayes drove and kicked out to Good in the left corner for a 3-pointer just ahead of the buzzer after Science Hill had milked the final 40 seconds of the third quarter.
“I thought Zach Howard really stepped up,” said coach Ken Cutlip, who needs one victory for his fifth 30-win season in eight years at Science Hill. “He sat a lot of the first half with foul trouble. I thought his threes gained us separation. …
“Really, we’re fortunate. You go that long without making a field goal to start the third quarter, you’re fortunate to still hang on to that lead. Then, once Zach got us going — and C.J.’s was just huge.”
Lanky 6-foot-4 sophomore Tre’vonn Fields led Science Hill with 16 points and seven rebounds. Fields scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a five-point play when he got fouled after making a 3-pointer. The lead was 59-38 after Fields made both ends of the one-and-one.
“We’re a 3-point shooting team and that’s where most of our shots come from,” Fields said. “C.J. knocked down the shot when the time came. … I love playing with these guys, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Adams, a junior point guard, finished with 14 points, five assists, four steals and four rebounds.
“Will Adams has been different, in my opinion, the last three weeks,” Cutlip said. “He’s really stepped up his level of play. He’s been more aggressive offensively, looking for his shot. He’s attacking the basket, which forces help. His assists haven’t dropped and he’s scoring more. And defensively, he’s been playing a lot smarter.”
Hayes tallied 13 points, five rebounds, five steals and three assists. Howard and Good scored 10 and eight points, respectively.
Nathan Terrill led Tennessee High with 13 points. Brennan Crandell added eight.
It looked like the Vikings might hang around until the end when Adam Mitchell’s put-back made it 37-32 with 3:20 left the third quarter. But Tennessee High’s offense became harried midway through the period, and although a quarter still remained, judging by the Viking players’ body language after 40 futile seconds of defense, Good’s 3-pointer looked like a dagger.
“That was big,” Tennessee High coach Roby Witcher said. “I felt like we had three straight offensive possessions when it was a four-point game — we’d battled back from being down nine at half and got five points back on them … and we had three straight offensive possessions and turned it over to points. And then they made that big three at the end of the quarter.”
Sullivan South got 21 points from guard A.J. Hutchins. Many of his shots were difficult, like the falling-down 14-footer he made along the baseline to cut Dobyns-Bennett’s led to one (54-53) with 4:18 left.
Hutchins’ 12-foot pull-up gave South a 63-59 lead with 1:15 remaining.
Micahel Harr made 1 of 2 free throws to stretch the Rebels’ lead to 65-59 with 36 seconds left.
D-B’s Malik Foreman made a 3-pointer to complete the game’s scoring with 0.6 seconds left. The Indians actually were awarded possession with 0.3 seconds reamining after South’s inbounds pass was knocked out of bounds, but D-B couldn’t parlay a lob toward the basket into a clean tip, and it didn’t draw iron.
Forward Austin English and guard Michael Harr scored 16 and 12 points, respectively, for the Rebels, who lost two games by double-digit margins to D-B in the regular season.
“Our kids played extremely hard and they executed the game plan,” said ninth-year South coach Mark Pendleton, who reached his first district tournament title game. “They bought in. They’re the ones that deserve all the credit.”
Pendleton said seniors such as Hutchins and English set the foundation for the tournament performance in the offseason.
“Those guys started us back in the summer,” he said. “They decided they wanted to play as a team and get better, and it’s carried over.”
Wing Cory Combs scored 20 points for D-B. Malik Foreman (13), Devaun Swafford (10) and Ty’leke Love (10) also scored in double figures.