Hilltoppers shock DB and win district title | Sports

KINGSPORT – A fortnight ago, Science Hill barely seemed to be in the same ranking as Dobyns-Bennett.

Saturday night was a 38-point turnaround with Science Hill’s Jamar Livingston putting in one of the best performances in recent District Championship history.

The Hilltoppers made a stunning comeback late in regulation before claiming a 52-49 overtime win over the Indians in the District 1-4A Men’s Basketball Tournament title game at the Buck Van Huss Dome.

Science Hill beat the Indians with a deliberate offense, spending the vast majority of their time in offensive possession 25 feet from the basket. It was a game plan that worked – maybe not perfectly, but certainly until victory.

“You don’t win games, especially big games, without good players,” said Science Hill head coach Ken Cutlip, whose team lost 82-47 to DB on Feb. 4. “We have good players and they have stepped up.

“Tonight we had to go in a different direction than we’ve been going all year. The kids made the sacrifice. We talked about being selfless, and it could only be about trying to compete and win a football game I thought our kids did a masterful job I’m so proud they didn’t flip the game plan DB got up but our kids didn’t go to bed .

Science Hill improved to 29-4 this season, winning for the 20th time in its last 21 games. Dobyns-Bennett fell to 25-6. Both teams will be at home in the Region 1-4A quarterfinals next Saturday.

The Indians missed a pair of one-and-one free throw attempts with the score tied in the closing seconds of regulation time and suffered costly turnovers down the stretch. Head coach Chris Poore said his team did nothing late in the game.

“We had a seven-point lead and they couldn’t hold the ball anymore,” Poore said. “They had to attack and we didn’t have a very good assist rotation, and we did poorly to keep them off the rim. Then offensively we did not take care of the ball and we made free throws. These are exactly the things that lose big games and league games. We had weathered the storm and had the ball in our hands where we needed it, and we didn’t make very good decisions.

Jonavan Gillespie had a good look at 3-point ground at the overtime buzzer, but fired the forward iron and went down.

“We executed well and looked at it, and it didn’t work out,” Poore said. “Jonavan was very capable of making that shot, and that’s who we wanted to shoot.”

SIR. LIVINGTON

The Hilltoppers star led all scorers with 26 points and also grabbed eight rebounds. He clearly made the difference in the game and walked away with the most valuable player honors.

“We just stayed in the system,” Livingston said. “Coach Cutlip gave us the game plan. And we were just dogs, really. No one believed in us. No one believed we were going to win this. We came back and we worked.

Livingston said the overtime was the same as the regulations.

“We were relaxed in our minds,” he said. “It was the same game plan. When we held the ball early it was quite easy. In extra time, it was easy too, because we work on it every day in training.

As for the 38-point turnover, Livingston said, “We weren’t worried about it. It was in the past. It is now.”

THE ROAD TO OVERTIME

Science Hill’s slow attack gave the Hilltoppers a 20-17 halftime advantage.

Dobyns-Bennett spent about five minutes in the locker room, came back and took some warm-up shots, and immediately started the second half with a 7-0 run.

But Science Hill kept up their determined pace, staying at shouting distance.

Still, the game seemed to turn when DB’s Brady Stump buried a buzzer-beating trey late in the third quarter for a 32-27 advantage.

In the fourth quarter, DB regained control and held a 46-39 lead with two minutes remaining. However, the Indians failed to score again in regulation while Science Hill scored seven points to tie the game.

Livingston scored 13 of his team’s 19 points in the fourth quarter before missing a 28-footer potential winner at the buzzer.

IN THE ADDITIONAL PERIOD

Michaeus Rowe scored a bucket to put Science Hill ahead, the Indians missed their second possession and the Hilltoppers used up most of the overtime four minutes.

Rowe found himself at the free-throw line with 28 seconds left, and he calmly drained both tries with a full timeout in between.

Jonavan Gillespie smashed a trey ball with 18.8 seconds left to pull DB inside 50-49.

Antonio Sydnor only had one bucket all night, but it was a big one. The Hilltoppers smashed the Indian press and Sydnor got an impressive cross pass from teammate Dalvin Mathes. Sydnor made the layup for the final margin of victory.

THE LEADERS

Rowe finished with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists despite missing much of the game with fouls.

Keynan Cutlip added nine points and five assists to Science Hill’s cause.

For Dobyns-Bennett, Gillespie and Brady Stump each totaled 14 points. Malachi Hale finished with 10 points and six rebounds.

Poore said missed free throws at the end become learning experiences.

“We had two of the best free throw shooters in the state on the line in Carter Metz and Jack Browder,” Poore said. “It’s who you want on the line, and I know they’re going to do the next one. We just have to look ahead, learn from it and be ready when you get that chance again.