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No. 4 Hilltoppers survive OT battle with Indians

Douglas Fritz • Jan 18, 2020 at 2:37 AM

JOHNSON CITY — They turned back the clock Friday night.

In a game that resembled Science Hill and Dobyns-Bennett hardwood battles of the distant past, the Hilltoppers overcame the extremely stubborn Indians 76-73 in overtime at The New Gym.

It was a big step toward the Big 7 Conference title for the Hilltoppers (20-1, 6-0), who are ranked No. 4 in the state in Class AAA.

“D-B played a phenomenal game,” said Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip. “They shot it tremendously tonight. It was outstanding basketball played by both teams.”

THE FINAL MINUTE

With 34.4 seconds left in overtime, Science Hill’s Jordan McLoyd was fouled on a drive to the basket. He made both free throws for a 74-73 lead.

The Indians (10-8, 5-1) had the ball after a timeout with 10.7 seconds to play. They went to Zane Whitson, who drove into the paint. Science Hill’s Jake Matherne blocked his shot, and the ball went off Whitson and out of bounds.

D-B fouled McLoyd on the inbounds pass and he made both free throws with 2.3 seconds left.

Needing to go the length of the floor, the Tribe’s last-second shot attempt came after the buzzer.

McLOYD’s MASTERPIECE

McLoyd scored all seven of his team’s points in overtime. With his team trailing 71-69, he came free for a 3-pointer on the wing and drilled it.

“I had to shoot it,” McLoyd said. “It was an intense game. It was in the moment, so I just took the shot. I was confident with it.”

He totaled 21 points with six assists, three rebounds and two steals. He went 12-for-14 from the foul line.

“I just stay calm,” McLoyd said. “I don’t try to rush or anything. I’m mad I missed two of them.”

WHAT D-B PROVED

The Indians showed they have the talent and poise to make late-season noise.

“It’s unbelievable,” said D-B coach Chris Poore, whose team made 11 of 20 shots from 3-point land. “You never know what to expect in this environment with a team that hasn’t been here before. We had one guy who had played in this game in this building (Abiah Releford). And he willed his way to get his team around him.

“And we played well. We had guys who answered a lot of questions. We had a bunch of young guys in the game. I thought they performed well and stepped up in a big way. If we make a few more plays down the stretch, we come away with this thing.”

EXCITING MOMENTS

The Indians got to overtime on the strength of Releford’s trey ball — over a defensive hand — with 12 seconds left in regulation.

Science Hill got a good look at the regulation buzzer, but the shot didn’t fall.

THE BUILDUP

The Indians took a two-point lead, 38-36, into the locker room thanks in part to Releford’s 3-pointer from 25 feet that ripped the net at the buzzer.

The third quarter was nip and tuck until the Tribe hit a hot stretch, eventually opening a nine-point lead, 58-49, late in the period. The Hilltoppers had an answer, scoring four quick points before the Indians were trying to hold for the last shot. D-B shot a bit too quickly, however and missed, and McLoyd went coast to coast for the layup to make it 58-55 after three quarters.

SCIENCE HILL LEADERS

Keynan Cutlip scored 16 points and Matherne had 10 points and four rebounds. Hunter Phillips had all eight of his points after halftime. Amare Redd contributed four steals.

D-B LEADERS

D-B had four players in double figures, led by Releford’s 20 points. Freshman Brady Stump totaled 17, Malachi Hale chipped in with 13 and Jahson Dennis added 10.

LOOKING FORWARD

Poore said he hopes his team has better things ahead.

“The second half of the season should be interesting,” he said. “If we can get in this same situation in the second half, I would be proud.”

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