In the Big Seven Conference basketball season opener, two of the top three teams in the league went head to head and Dobyns-Bennett prevailed, 56-47, Friday night at the Buck Van Huss Dome.
D-B improved to 8-1 on the season while the Lady Hilltoppers slipped to 5-2.
Whitson won the mini battle with Science Hill’s Alasia Smith, but both players were superb. Whitson finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds while Smith totaled 22 points.
“Both kids are really good players,” said Science Hill head coach Scottie Whaley. “Both are warriors and play hard.”
Whitson was a better scorer than a shooter on this night, but she was relentless in the paint.
“Obviously my shot wasn’t as on as it usually is,” said Whitson. “So I just had to be determined to score anyway I could to help my teammates out, whether it was making the right pass or taking it to the goal. And if I missed the layup, I just always went to get the rebound.”
Whitson had help from teammates, especially in their ability to take care of the ball against Science Hill’s pressure. Offensive support came from Jabrea Johnson, who had 12 points despite foul trouble and nailed a crucial fourth-quarter trey that gave the Indians a 50-42 edge with three minutes to go.
HOLDING THE LEAD
Science Hill cut a nine-point halftime deficit (27-18) to four points a couple of times in the third quarter. But D-B entered the fourth quarter up by six, 39-33, and Science Hill couldn’t find a comeback path.
“They out-toughed us some there in the third quarter, and got some loose balls and rebounds,” said D-B head coach Bill Francis. “But I thought our girls really battled through and held enough of a lead into the fourth quarter. Late game we handled the ball, we didn’t turn it over, and we got the shots we wanted. I’m proud of that bunch right there. I’m proud of how they responded to some tough spots.”
THE HILLTOPPERS VIEW
Whaley said his team will find its way — and shoot better as the year goes along.
“We’re close, we’re just not shooting the ball well,” said Whaley. “We won’t have another game where we don’t make a three. We played hard and our effort was good.”