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Lady ’Toppers bounce back, whip Cherokee

Douglas Fritz • Updated Dec 3, 2019 at 10:07 PM

Coming off two losses early in the basketball season, Science Hill was in no mood for a friendly scrum.

The Lady Hilltoppers exploded from an eight-point lead after one quarter, holding Cherokee to just one bucket for over 12 minutes — while tacking on 28 tallies to the home side of the scoreboard — Tuesday night at The New Gym. Science Hill went on to win 63-15 in the Big Seven Conference opener for both teams.

Science Hill improved to 3-2 on the season while Cherokee slipped to 1-6.

THE BOUNCE BACK

Science Hill suffered double-digit losses to Knox Bearden (59-43) and Maryville (61-47) over the Thanksgiving holiday. Those are the type of teams the Lady Hilltoppers would have to beat at the sectional level to return to the state tournament.

Bouncing back quickly was important.

“It was great,” said Lady Hilltoppers’ head coach Scottie Whaley. “It was a good response from our kids. We came out and played well and played hard. It was a good team effort from our kids.”

HOW IT PLAYED OUT

Science Hill wasn’t clicking in machine-like fashion in the first quarter, opening with a 10-2 spurt before Cherokee found a little rhythm and kept the deficit at eight, 17-9, by period’s end.

The second quarter was a different story. The defense locked in, and Science Hill outscored the Lady Chiefs by an 18-2 margin.

“We just played a lot better defensively,” said Whaley. “We went to a halfcourt trap a little bit more to get us moving.”

By the time the third quarter was half over, Science Hill held a commanding 45-11 advantage.

SCORING LEADERS

Jeila Greenlee paced the Lady Hilltoppers with 17 points. Teammate Alasia Smith chipped in with 14 points. Nae Marion added nine.

Aliyanna Hill totaled seven points and guided the team from her point guard position.

“We were more focused on what we needed to work on,” Hill said. “Our teamwork came back. We shared the ball more and we communicated way better than we have been.”

Hill said the early losses should help the Lady Hilltoppers grow.

“I see it as a wake-up call,” said Hill. “Last year it was easy, but now teams are coming for us. Playing these teams early, I feel like it prepares us for what’s coming up later in the season.”

For Cherokee, Sam Tilson totaled seven points while Destiny Jarnigan followed with six.

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