With seven seniors and four juniors making up this year’s Science Hill squad, head coach Ken Cutlp is well aware that expectations are tall.
But it appears that the Toppers might just have the size to do it.
That starts with standout Bowden Lyon. The senior was given the duty of running point guard early last season, but after senior Holden Hensley joined the team, the Toppers had a formidable backcourt with size and skill.
Now you will find 6-foot-6 Lyon almost anywhere on the floor — from center to point guard — with his long and athletic stature. And the Toppers are hoping their team’s depth and skill will help them find their way back to Murfreesboro.
“Anything short of a return to Murfreesboro will be a disappointment for this group, because I know that is their expectations,” Cutlip said. “With that being said, that is an extremely tall order and we are aware that a lot of things have to go right for that to happen. But, we are capable of getting there.”
Lyon gives the Toppers a versatile threat from the outside and inside, while Hensley — when he can return from an early season ankle injury — gives his team a steady ball handler.
“Things seem to flow better when Holden is out on the floor,” Cutlip said. “He changes our team, to be honest with you. He leaves his heart on the floor and he is going to give you everything that he has. I think we can find another gear when we have him on the floor.”
Colby Martin is coming off an impressive performance in the Bahamas and Cutlip said that he is a solid contributor that steps up during the biggest games. Another threat from the guard position is the athletic Nate Jackson, who will help the Toppers with their pressure defense. The best marksman for the Toppers is junior David Bryant, who is learning his role with the team as he is getting accustom to varsity minutes. Two other guards that will contribute are Tyrique Price and Jaylan Adams.
Down low, the Toppers have 6-foot-6 post Andrew Bishop, who is in his first year with the program and Cutlip said that he just continues to get better.
Another skilled post player is Tripp Povlich, who, while undersized, provides the Toppers with a scrappiness that makes them better. Senior Tate Wheeler is another scrappy player that is capable of being a big scorer and rebounder for the Toppers. They also add football standout Nakiya Smith who adds girth to the low post.
“All of those guys are going to be really effective for us in the post,” Cutlip said.
Science Hill opened the season in the Bahamas, but more than the game experience, Cutlip wanted to provide his team with an opportunity to fine-tune their cohesiveness off the court.
“I hope it develops, what we like to call our second family, which is our basketball family,” Cutlip said of the trip. “There is something to be said about when your team becomes close. They aren’t playing with each other, they play for each other.”
If the Toppers can maintain their unity, then they have the depth to do something special.
“I think one of the keys to our success this year will be our ability to use our depth night in and night out and being able to keep all of the guys on the same page,” Cutlip said. “When you’re playing 10 or 11 guys on any given night, sometimes it can make it very difficult to keep those guys committed.
“That is going to be our biggest challenge, is continuing to put the team first,” Cutlip said. “And when we do that we have a chance to be extremely good.”
Rounding out the roster for the Toppers are sophomores Drew Morrison, Jerriah Love and Kendle Cutlip, along with junior Junior Danso.