First, the Lady Hilltoppers will be at home. Second, they are familiar with the Lady Rebels.
“Playing at home for this group is always huge,” said Science Hill head coach Scottie Whaley, whose team is 12-0 at home this season and will play in the Class AAA contest at 7 o’clock inside The New Gym. “I told the girls it will be the funnest game they’ve ever played in. We don’t have to travel two hours, so that will help us.
“Maryville will be really good. We played them this summer. They are tremendous offensively. They can just flat-out score. I think it will be a nip-and-tuck game for both teams.”
The winner earns a berth in next week’s state tournament in Murfreesboro.
Science Hill is 30-3 on the season, with 25 straight wins since its last in-state setback. The Lady Hilltoppers stopped rival Dobyns-Bennett, 50-43, in the Region 1-AAA final on Wednesday.
Maryville, which lost to Oak Ridge in the Region 2-AAA championship, carries an identical record of 30-3. Oak Ridge (31-2) will play host to D-B (28-7).
The Lady Hilltoppers are seeking their first state tournament berth since 2013. That was the second year of Science Hill’s back-to-back state runner-up finishes. Maryville is trying to reach the state for the first time since 1999.
The Lady Rebels started the season with 19 straight wins before a 44-39 setback against Farragut. Their other losses were against Bearden and Oak Ridge — where Jada Guinn hit a buzzer-beating trey to lift the Lady Wildcats, 53-50.
All three of Maryville’s losses came on the opponent’s home court.
Lindsey Taylor is a rock-solid post, totaling 19 points and 11 rebounds against Oak Ridge. The 6–foot-1 senior, who has signed with Furman, is a strong finisher and a rebound magnet.
“She’s a heck of a player,” said Whaley.
Denae Fritz is a superbly talented sophomore. She was the District 4-AAA most valuable player and authored double-double efforts against Campbell County (12 points, 14 rebounds) and Oak Ridge (14, 10) in the region. She’s tough on the offensive glass and has a knock-down jumper from 15 feet and in.
Courtney Carruthers is a weapon from 3-point land. She doesn’t need a lot of room or time to knock it down. The Rebels will run her off screens, and she has a high-arcing jumper with an effective step-back move to create space. She’s a heady defensive player.
Aaliyah Vananda is an integral part of Maryville’s attack. The 5-8 sophomore is a 3-point threat who leads the team in steals and deflections (great hands), and has top-notch court vision. She can break down a defense with drives to the basket and finishes well.
Other keys include Jazz Ervin, a strong 5-9 junior who will run the floor on the break, and guard Gracie Midkiff.
“They are just really skilled,” said Whaley. “We’re going to have to defend and guard them, and try to match them point for point. They are able to do a lot of things.”
SCOUTING SCIENCE HILL
Things start in the paint with Alasia Smith. The 6-foot junior is unstoppable at times, displaying a variety of cat-quick moves to the basket. She averages 17 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Providing the most problems for opponents on the perimeter is Jeila Greenlee, a rapidly emerging sophomore with a college-level burst and a sweet touch from trey country.
Symantha Fugate can be a complementary part or a game-changer as a perimeter/paint mix. Erin Egerbrecht is a major threat from 3-point land while solid guard Yana Hill adds to mix.
Science Hill has several contributors off the bench, including freshman post Nae Marion.