BY COLLIN BROOKS
Oak Ridge was a bit more timid without two of its star players, but the Wildcats were still able to defeat Science Hill 64-56 in the first round of the Arby’s Classic at Viking Hall in Bristol on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats were without Tee Higgins — who was preparing for the Under Armor All-America High School football game — and EJ Bush — who was injured during the Wildcats contest 10 days ago against Science Hill, but they received a standout performance from seniors Tyshawn Young and Anthony Gibson in order to grab the win.Young led all scorers with 29 points, while Gibson netted 17.
“I thought that Tyshawn Young carried us,” Oak Ridge coach Aaron Green said. “If he didn’t play the way he played, we would have probably been in trouble.”
A quiet Young said that he was just trying to find space and take advantage of what the Science Hill defense was giving him after the contest.
“They were in a zone, so I was just trying to find gaps and get in where I could,” Young said. “I was just crashing and being aggressive and trying to find my shot.”
Young delivered a few brutal blows to the Toppers, including a stretch in the third quarter where he scored seven straight points just after Science Hill tied the game at 33.
“It seemed like every time we were close, number four (Young) was right there scoring,” said Holden Hensley who led the Toppers with 17 points. “…They made big plays and we didn’t.”
Bowden Lyon scored 14 points for Science Hill and helped them pull within 49-52 before Taijon Jones (7 points) connected on a 3-pointer to stretch the lead back to six with just over three minutes remaining in the contest. The Toppers were able to pull closer, getting within four points twice with under a minute, but the Wildcats would knock down their free throws to end the contest.
“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip said. “I am proud of our kids effort, to come back from the way we performed last time, I thought our kids had remarkable improvement in that and they competed much better.
“The difference in the ball game is similar to last time, thought, we got down earlier and then you are fighting from that 10-point deficit after the first quarter and it’s hard to make that up against a team as solid as Oak Ridge.”
Science started out the third quarter with two baskets by Lyon, before the Wildcats were able to score. But that was just the beginning for the Toppers as they would go on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 33 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Toppers jumped out to a 4-2 lead, but they would go on to be outscored 16-4 for the rest of the quarter, which included a 9-2 run by Oak Ridge to close out the first quarter, which was spurted by five points from Gibson.
Science Hill will now play Dobyns-Bennett at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, while Oak Ridge will play Trinity (KY) at 6:30 p.m.
Science Hill 8 14 16 18 — 56
Oak Ridge 18 12 13 21 — 64
Science Hill (56)
Holden Hensley 17, Bowden Lyon 14, Tate Wheeler 8, Colby Martin 7, Tripp Povlich 3, David Bryant 3, Nate Jackson 2, Junior Danso 2.
Oak Ridge (64)
Tyshawn Young 29, Anthony Gibson 17, Taijon Jones 7, Levert Smith 4, Herbert Booker 3, JaVonte Thomas 2, Marcus Smith 2.
3-pointers — Science Hill 5 (Holden Hensley, Tate Wheeler, Tripp Povlich, David Bryant, Kendle Cutlip), Oak Ridge 4 (Anthony Gibson 3, Taijon Jones)