Turnovers doom Bears in title game
The Science Hill Hilltoppers snapped Sevier County High School’s four-game winning streak with a 70-48 win in the Region 1-AAA championship Thursday night at Daniel Boone High School.
The Hilltoppers (37-2 overall) used a swarming press to force numerous early turnovers en route to 20-point halftime lead. From there the Bears played even with the state’s No. 2 ranked team, although they never cut the lead to less than 15.
“You get one day to prepare for something like that (press), unfortunately ... (and) our guys were just nervous, and they just kept doing the wrong thing,” Sevier County coach Ken Wright said.
The Toppers played a pressing style similar to Kentucky’s old attacking defense from the days of Rick Pitino.
“I said, ‘If you cross them half-court, you’re going to get trapped on the sideline,’” Wright said. “And we kept doing everything we talked about that we didn’t want to do.
“The second half was a heck of a ballgame, and that’s what it should have been (throughout),” Wright said. “The difference in the game was, they thrive on turnovers and layups, and if you look at the points they scored off turnovers, I think you’re going to see the difference in the game. You just can’t do that against these kinds of teams.”
The loss will send the Bears (28-5 overall) to Oak Ridge on Monday night, where they’ll face the 27-5 Wildcats in the Class AAA sectional.
Oak Ridge defeated Maryville 71-54 for the Region 2-AAA championship Thursday as the Bears were falling to the Hilltoppers.
Sevier County started the game right, with a 3-pointer from junior Cody Underwood, but then Science Hill reeled off eight-straight points — keyed by three turnovers in the Bears’ backcourt.
Two sweet assists for the Bears — one from Dillon Cate to Logan McCarter and the other from McCarter to Cate — helped the team cut the lead back to 11-9.
But again the Toppers went on a big run, netting another eight-straight to push the lead to double-figures at 19-9. A Logan McCarter bucket inside brought the first quarter to an end with the Bears trailing 19-11.
Things got worse in the second quarter for Sevier County, as the Toppers’ C.J. Good, Reed Hayes and Will Adams mounted a furious scoring attack to take the advantage to 41-21 by intermission.
The lead grew to as much as 26 in the third quarter before a 6-0 SC run late in the frame cut the margin to within striking distance at 54-38 heading into the final quarter.
After the Toppers made two-consecutive buckets to start the fourth, SC’s Trent Pope and McCarter combined to spark another 6-0 run to get the score to within 15, but that was as close as things would get.
“We were right there, but they’d always have an answer from the 3-point line,” Wright said. “They’ve got some many good shooters, and they’re going to make you pay if you don’t get out on them.”
Science Hill closed out the game on a 11-4 run to make the eventual final score of 70-49.
Will Adams led four Hilltoppers in double-figures with 21 points. He was followed by Reed Hayes with 17, Calvin Songster with 16 and C.J. Good with 12.
Logan McCarter led Sevier County with 18 points, which helped him earn All-Region Tournament honors. Cody Underwood, who was also selected All-Region, added 14.
Jacob Whaley was next with six, while Weston Underwood had four. Austin Pope, Dillon Cate and Trent Pope had two points each.
The sectional game with Oak Ridge is set for 7 p.m. Monday. Science Hill will host Maryville in the other sectional at the same time.
“Oak Ridge is just like Science Hill with a little more size,” Wright said. “It’s going to be pressure, they’re going to have the same style of play — a lot of up-tempo. They’ve got a great team, I’ve seen them play. They’re a great team.”