West ends Science Hill girls' season

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Feb 23, 2018 at 10:30 PM

MORRISTOWN — No offense to the fine folks of Hamblen County, but Morristown West is probably the last place a girls' basketball team in Northeast Tennessee wants to play the home team in the postseason.

Science Hill found that out the hard way Friday night, suffering a 78-47 loss in the Region 1-AAA quarterfinals.

The Lady Hilltoppers ended their season at 25-6, while West improved to 23-3. The Lady Trojans, who got a 30-point effort from Blayre Schultz, will play Daniel Boone in the Region 1-AAA semifinals as the tournament shifts from home sites to Jefferson County for the final two rounds.

"We worked on what they do, but the bottom line is they're a lot more physical, a lot more aggressive than we are," Science Hill coach Scottie Whaley said. "They have a great program, a great team and to catch them, we're going to have to be mentally and physically tougher."

The Lady 'Toppers were fired up early and raced out to a 9-3 lead. They got off to a strong start again to open the second half, but both times the Lady Trojans responded in big ways.

Down 39-23 at the break, Alasia Smith scored the first six points of the second half for the Lady 'Toppers and led them with 10 overall. However, she and her teammates weren't able to cut the deficit into single digits.

After the early surge by Smith and the Lady 'Toppers, the Lady Trojans responded by rolling to a 61-36 lead at the end of three quarters. With point guard Symantha Fugate fouling out early in the fourth quarter, the end result was merely a formality.

Erin Egerbrecht scored nine points, while Jelia Greenlee and Fugate ended with six each.

West, which had Caroline Harville net 16 points and Angel Simms with 14, was most effective in clogging up Science Hill's passing lanes — making the Lady 'Toppers pay often for any cross-court passes.

Morristown West coach Johnny Gaylon talked about his team focusing on shutting down Science Hill's long-range shooters, Egerbrecht and Greenlee, before addressing an upcoming matchup with Daniel Boone. The Lady ’'Blazers took a 51-50 win when the teams played back on 13.

"They're a very good team, probably the favorite in this tournament," Gaylon said. "Last time we played them, we got off to a bad start, so we will be looking to get off better this time. Hopefully, we'll have the right game plan because they have everybody back and they're a hard matchup. But we're going to put up a fight — win, lose or draw."

Despite the loss, Science Hill can look back at the season as a success. Its starting point guard, Aliyanna Hill, was injured early in the season and Fugate stepped up and gave a solid effort. In addition, it was the last game for four seniors — Jackson Whiteside, Aysha Redford, Dezol Love and Samantha Austin.

"To go 25-6, we've gone 51-12 the last two years," Whaley said. "With the injuries we've had, our kids have done a good job. This has been a fun group to coach. Our seniors have done everything we've asked them to do and they've represented this program great. At the end of the day as a coach, that's all you can ask for."

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