Johnson City Press Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Science Hill has enjoyed state success

March 12th, 2012 11:40 pm by Douglas Fritz

As Science Hill prepares for its 26th appearance in the state basketball tournament, it will continue a long-standing tradition.
The Hilltoppers made their first big splash in 1967, and made a lot of noise in 1968 and 1973. But it was 25 years ago when things began to change dramatically. That’s when Science Hill made its first appearance under Coach George Pitts.
Nobody expected the Hilltoppers to challenge for a state championship as just winning one game at that level would have been considered quite an achievement. Science Hill pushed the game into overtime, but Dyersburg pulled out a 52-50 win over a heartbroken bunch of Hilltoppers.
In 1988, Science Hill marched right back to the state quarterfinals, making back-to-back appearances for the third time in school history. However, the ball would once again fail to bounce the Hilltoppers’ way. Once again the game went into overtime, and once again the Hilltoppers lost. This time it was 42-36 to Oak Ridge.
Nobody could have seen it at the time, but those difficult losses were laying the groundwork for the greatest stretch of basketball in Science Hill history.
It didn’t happen immediately. Science Hill was punched out in the region semifinals in 1989.
What followed the next year will never be forgotten by Science Hill fans. Led by senior Orville Whittington and sophomore Shane Williams, and a host of other standouts, the Hilltoppers conquered the state in 1990.
Underlining the importance of those overtime losses in 1987 and 1988, Science Hill drew on every ounce of desire it had to record a 79-76 triple-overtime win over a giant Memphis Christian Brothers team in the quarterfinals. The Hilltoppers simply weren’t going to lose in overtime in the quarterfinals again.
Boosted by the momentum of that win — and somehow not drained from the experience — Science Hill tamed future NBA player David Vaughn and Nashville Whites Creek. The Hilltoppers shocked the state with a 74-66 win in the semifinals.
It can’t be said the finals were easy, but few people expected Science Hill to have trouble with Chattanooga Tyner. The Hilltoppers won 69-52 to earn their first gold ball.
Science Hill returned to the finals in 1991, losing a heartbreaking 55-54 decision to Memphis Hamilton when Williams’ shot in the foul lane at the buzzer drew back iron and wouldn’t fall.
But again, it was a loss that would spur more greatness. Science Hill won the 1994 state title, and had its second shot at back-to-back crowns in 1995. This time the Hilltoppers pounded Chattanooga Brainerd 77-56 to make school history.
Before their remarkable run ended with a stunning district quarterfinal loss to Daniel Boone in 2001, Science Hill reached the state tournament eight consecutive years from 1993-2000.
In the decade of 1990 to 2000, Science Hill started with a 12-2 record in the state tournament, and finished 12-7 after five straight years of one and done.
With Mike Poe at the helm, the Hilltoppers made it back to the championship game in 2002, beating Shelbyville and Nashville Stratford before losing to rising power Memphis White Station in the finals. It was the first of three straight state titles for White Station.
Science Hill hasn’t won at the state since beating Stratford. Its only appearance since 2002 was a 60-50 loss to Walker Valley in 2009.
Over the last 25 years, Science Hill has played in 25 state tournament games and owns a stout record of 14-11.
Game No. 26 is scheduled for Thursday as the Hilltoppers will go up against Wilson Central, a relatively new school in Lebanon. Wilson has won two girls state basketball titles, but has just one state semifinal appearance on the boys’ side. Wilson’s last state tournament trip came in 2005.
Here’s a look at Science Hill’s history in the state tournament, including sectional appearances (note: sectional tournament results are included in 1999 and 2000, when the TSSAA had a different postseason format):

2012
Class AAA substate
Maryville (W, 69-60)
State
vs. Wilson Central (Thursday, 12:45 p.m., CDT)
———
2011
Class AAA substate
Knoxville West (L, 72-67)
———
2009
Class AAA substate
Oak Ridge (W, 56-38)
State
Walker Valley (L, 60-50)
———
2008
Class AAA substate
Oak Ridge (L, 55-36)
———
2007
Class AAA substate
Maryville (L, 57-54)

2005
Class AAA substate
Oak Ridge (L, 79-65)

2004
Class AAA substate
Clinton (L, 66-59)

2002
Class AAA substate
William Blount (W, 73-51)
State
Shelbyville (W, 65-44)
Nashville Stratford (W, 65-57)
Championship
Mem. White Station (L, 59-45)

2000
Class AAA sectional
Maryville (W, 71-49)
Oak Ridge (W, 80-77)
State
Mem. White Station (L, 64-46)

1999
Class AAA sectional
Dobyns-Bennett (W, 59-56)
Oak Ridge (W, 57-43)
State
White County (L, 52-45)

1998
Class AAA substate
Oak Ridge (W, 66-62)
State
Mem. White Station (L, 49-44)

1997
Class AAA substate
Knox Bearden (W, 79-26)
State
Bartlett (L, 62-51)

1996
Class AAA substate
Knox Bearden (W, 55-49)
State
Murf. Oakland (L, 66-45)

1995
Class AAA substate
Knox Karns (W, 97-62)
State
Lebanon (W, 81-60)
Mem. East (W, 71-68)
Championship
Chatt. Brainerd (W, 77-56)

1994
Class AAA substate
Knox Powell (W, 112-46)
State
Knox Bearden (W, 66-63)
Montgomery Bell Academy (W, 83-70)
Championship
Nashville Overton (W, 79-62)

1993
Class AAA substate
Knox Bearden (W, 61-46)
State
Nashville Overton (W, 71-57)
Columbia Central (W, 74-68)

1992
Class AAA substate
Maryville (L, 56-53)

1991
Class AAA substate
Clinton (W, 94-59)
State
Nashville Whites Creek (W, 55-54)
Obion County (W, 106-80)
Championship
Hamilton (L, 55-54)

1990
Class AAA substate
Sevier County (W, 78-76)
State
Mem. Christian Brothers (W, 79-76, 3OT)
Nashville Whites Creek (W, 74-66)
Championship
Chatt. Tyner (W, 69-52)

1988
Class AAA substate
Knox Bearden (W, 69-57)
State
Oak Ridge (L, 42-36, OT)

1987
Class AAA substate
Knoxville Halls (W, 72-65)
State
Dyersburg (L, 52-50, OT)

1985
Class AAA substate
Knox Karns (L, 60-44)

1982
Class AAA substate
Knox Bearden (W, 59-49)
State
Memphis Central (L, 50-44)

1978
Class AAA substate
Knox Farragut (L, 63-61)

1976
Class AAA substate
Oak Ridge (W, 76-65)
State
Haywood County (L, 72-48)

1974
Class L
Alcoa (L, 57-55)

1973
Class L
Oak Ridge (W, 42-41)
Chatt. Howard (W, 57-56)
Gallatin (L, 57-54)

1972
Nashville McGavock (L, 61-58)

1968
Oak Ridge (W, 68-46)
Bransford (W, 77-69)
George Carver (W, 77-73)
Championship
Chatt. Riverside (L, 67-61)

1967
Woodstock (W, 87-58)
Nashville Stratford (W, 55-43)
Knoxville Holston (L, 45-41)
Third place
Chatt. Riverside (W, 47-40)

1954
Treadwell (L, 51-50)

1952
Dupont (L, 65-54)

Science Hill overall: 36-28 (40-28 counting sectional tournaments)
Longest Win Streak: 9
Longest Losing Streak: 5
— — —
And here’s a look at Cloudland’s state tournament results:
2012
Class A substate
Oneida (W, 64-51)
State
vs. McEwen (Thursday, 6 p.m., CDT)

2011
Class A substate
Jellico (W, 69-53)
State
Middleton (L, 52-37)

2010
Class A substate
Harriman (L, 49-39)

2009
Class A substate
Rockwood (W, 39-38)
State
Tenn. Temple (L, 64-50)

2007
Class A substate
Harriman (W, 50-47)
Culleoka (L, 55-33)

2006
Class A substate
Wartburg Central (W, 51-47)
State
Union City (L, 77-40)

1968
Mem. Frayser (W, 64-55)
Nashville Stratford (L, 66-48)

1966
Mem. Treadwell (L, 58-51)

Cloudland overall: 5-7
Longest Win Streak: 1
Longest Losing Streak: 2
— — —
It’s really hard to say exactly what a team gets when the drawings are held for the state tournament — just ask Cloudland’s girls.
As it turned out, the Lady Highlanders got the worst possible quarterfinal draw by getting Clay County. That’s because Clay went on to easily win the state-title game, beating district rival Jackson County 60-39 in the finals.
Cloudland had its chances in a 55-43 first-round loss to Clay. The Lady ‘Landers finished 32-5, and should gain some confidence from Clay’s strong showing in this year’s event.
With many of its key players returning, and with some good young players ready to get into the varsity mix, Cloudland could make a run at a Class A title again next year.

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