Tennessee High came alive offensively down the stretch — especially Blake Fauver — and earned a tight 65-60 win over the Hilltoppers in a basketball game at Viking Hall on Friday night.
It was Science Hill’s first loss of the season to an in-state team. The Hilltoppers, ranked No. 4 in the state in Class AAA, fell to 22-2 overall. They are 6-1 in league play.
Tennessee High (17-7 overall) improved to 5-3 in the Big Seven.
“Bottom line you have to execute and you have to knock down shots,” said Science Hill head coach Ken Cutlip. “Fauver stepped up and hit some shots in the fourth quarter and we just didn’t produce. You have to make plays. We just didn’t make plays.
“It was evident to me (the Vikings) just wanted the game more than our kids tonight. Those little plays that are loose balls, on the floor, tips up in the air, and who’s going to come down with it; they won the majority of the 50-50 balls. Tennessee High was a hungry team. People questioned whether they were the best team in the league. The way they played tonight I would say they are the best team in the league.”
DOWN THE STRETCH
Science Hill led 49-44 going into the fourth quarter and seemed to have a grip on the game.
But Fauver started heating up. The Vikings cut the deficit to one point twice, and then Fauver delivered the go-ahead bucket for a 54-53 advantage at the five-minute mark.
Hunter Phillips answered with a nice baseline drive on the next possession to put Science Hill back in front.
The Vikings got a big boost when McHale Bright drained a long trey with 3:20 to go, giving them a 57-55 lead. Science Hill’s Keynan Cutlip hit a quick bucket on the other end to tie the game.
But Fauver scored again on a power layup with 1:47 to go, and the Hilltoppers couldn’t catch them again. Fauver finished with 12 points, scoring 10 in the fourth quarter.
“My teammates set me up with the perfect opportunity, and I just started getting in the groove,” said Fauver, who also had seven rebounds. “Every single shot I made was off an assist.”
Vikings’ head coach Roby Witcher said, “We just isolated him at the start of the fourth quarter. We felt he could take his guy, and he made some big buckets. It was two really good teams fighting each other. It comes down to who makes shots and who makes plays.”
TENNESSEE HIGH LEADERS
Cole McBrayer also stepped up, twice hitting both ends of one-plus-one opportunities in the fourth quarter. He made three treys in the game and finished with 15 points.
Bright did his damage throughout the game and finished with 16 points. Nolan Wishon barely missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
SCIENCE HILL LEADERS
Keynan Cutlip led Science Hill with 15 points while Phillips added 14.
Jake Matherne had nine points and nine rebounds while Jordan McLoyd totaled eight points and four assists.