Part of the reason for that was Science Hill’s determined interior defense.
The Hilltoppers rode the wings of defense to a 59-40 win in a Big Seven Conference basketball game Tuesday night at The New Gym.
“Defense has really been the staple of this team all year,” said Science Hill head coach Ken Cutlip. “Early in the year we were really strong on the defensive end, but in the middle of the year I feel like we kind of lost our identity a little bit. But over the past week, I feel like our kids have focused back in on the defensive end.”
Science Hill (26-2) took another step toward a league title, improving to 9-1. Crockett, which entered the game in second place, fell to 6-4 in the conference. The Pioneers are 16-9 overall.
THE TREY BALL
Keynan Cutlip punished Crockett from behind the arc, knocking down four 3-balls and totaling 16 points. The sophomore had maybe his best game on The Hill, adding eight rebounds and four assists.
Jordan McLoyd was also in the trey mix, hitting three and finishing with 13 points.
As a team, Science Hill made 9 of 19 attempts from 3-point land.
“I’m just trying to get out of their way a little bit, and let them go,” said Ken Cutlip. “Our kids have really worked hard on their shooting. They’ve spent a lot of time getting in the gym and working on shots. We’ve always felt like we could shoot the ball better than we have. Tonight it was really good to us.”
Neither team discovered an offensive rhythm in the first quarter. It took almost three minutes for either team to score, and Science Hill exited the period with a scant 10-7 advantage.
But while Crockett continued to have difficulty finding the range, Science Hill gained a little footing in the second quarter. The combination resulted in a 24-12 halftime edge.
After a stalemate in the third quarter, Science Hill opened strong in the fourth. The Hilltoppers created a 14-point lead at 42-28 and Crockett couldn’t get back in the mix.
Griffin Ballard had 10 points as did teammate Jake Matherne for the Hilltoppers. Ballard had five assists while Matherne totaled seven rebounds.
For Crockett, Dawson Wagner led the way with 15 points. Mack Hensley added 12.