By Collin Brooks
Science Hill ran away with their third straight regional championship during a 78-51 win over David Crockett on Thursday night.
Seven Toppers scored in the first quarter and 12 would finish with their names in the scorebook.
“That’s our guys buying in,” Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip said. “They’re buying into sharing the basketball and just finding the open man. And it doesn’t put all the pressure on just one man to produce for you.”
The Region 1-AAA Tournament MVP Nate Jackson, who earned the award for not only his 15 points, but his defensive effort against Crockett’s Josh Releford, helped the Toppers take the crown.
“I’ll be honest, it was as well deserved as any, because that Saturday night game, if we don’t have Nate we’re not here tonight,” Cutlip said. “And then obviously tonight, he had another outstanding game. I am really happy for Nate. He is the epitome of what this program is about.”
Colby Martin was the leading scorer for the Toppers with 20 points — including four 3 pointers. Holden Hensley finished with nine and Tate Wheeler contributed eight.
It was the depth in the end that was too much for Crockett.
“They’ve got 12 or 13 kids that could just come at you and they don’t have a drop off,” David Crockett coach John Good said. “That’s the big thing.”
Releford finished the night with 16 points, going 10 of 12 from the free throw line. The Pioneers also received 12 from McHale Bright. Tee Johnson and Camara Bradley each finished the night with seven.
Their coach took blame for the loss, saying he didn’t have his guys prepared.
“You can’t turn the ball over on them and that is what we did,” Good said. “It was a poor coaching job and I just didn’t have my kids prepared.”
At the end of the night, Cutlip gave all of the praise to his kids for buying into the team’s philosophy.
“It’s something about these kids, that is what it’s about. It’s about this group and understanding that this is a team first program. It’s not about one individual and on any given night, we’ve got six or seven guys that step up and lead us and I think that is why we’ve been fortunate enough to have the success over the last several years that we’ve had.”
And he was happy that his teams have been trying to live up to the acclaim of the Toppers name, having claimed 6 of the last 7 Region Championships.
“I’m happy for the kids, I really am and the program. This program was extremely successful before I ever got here, you know, so all we are trying to do is to uphold the tradition,” Cutlip said.
Science Hill will host Bearden on Saturday night, while David Crockett will travel to Oak Ridge.