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Indians rough up Hilltoppers

Bill Lane • Jan 5, 2008 at 12:00 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Mission accomplished.

Dobyns-Bennett (14-2, 7-0), with the first Associated Press poll of the basketball season due out Tuesday, may have established itself as a top-10 team Friday night with a 71-58 Big 9 Conference win over Science Hill (13-5, 6-1).

The Indians successfully assembled all the elements required to beat the tradition-rich Hilltoppers in their own domain: rebounding, shooting, ball control and team work.

“It was a very good high school game,’’ D-B coach Charlie Morgan said. “We played hard and smart and gave the right defensive effort.

“Our guys got the ball inside effectively and did a good job on the boards.’’

Justin Sylvester led the Indians with 17 points. Marshall Hardy and Darren Riggs each added 11.

Science Hill closed the first half with a seven-point flurry for a 32-29 lead.

Sylvester came out firing in the second half, hitting three straight 3-point goals. His shooting enabled D-B to build an 11-point lead in the third quarter.

“Justin’s shooting gave us a lift,’’ Morgan said. “That was the difference.’’

Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip agreed.

“Sylvester threw some daggers into us and we never recovered from it,’’ he said. “That was an all- conference performance by him.’’

Sylvester credited teammate Jamel Williams with setting him up perfectly. “I was getting good passes from Jamel for those outside shots,’’ he said.

Playing through the holidays helped the Indians polish their game. “We’re still riding the wave of the Arby’s Classic,’’ Sylvester said. “From this win we’ve got to keep moving on and do our best to win the conference championship.’’

Morgan said several players made contributions in different ways. “Bronson Flack and Jordan Edwards got some key rebounds. Hardy led our defense by bellying up and taking charges. Riggs was outstanding at rebounding and blocking shots. Dustin McConnell played a good all-around game.’’

Riggs explained that it takes diligent preparation to accomplish such a win. “You’ve got to go hard in practice to get ready for a game like this,’’ he said. “It strengthened our team. (The Hilltoppers) got nine offensive rebounds in the first half and we knew then we had to keep them off the boards.’’

Flack, a 6-foot-10 forward, described the victory over D-B’s arch-rival as “exhilirating.’’

Hardy said it took everybody playing in harmony to conquer Science Hill. “It was a good team win.’’

Morgan underlined at halftime what it would take to win. The Indians had made 10 turnovers in the opening 16 minutes. D-B committed just seven in the second half.

Chris Smith and Josh Odem accounted for much of the Science Hill offense with some accurate shooting. Smith hit 17 points, Odem 16.

“Someone mentioned a while ago that we looked tired,’’ Cutlip said. “A team that’s down always looks tired. When you get behind, you have a tendency to rush things.’’

The third quarter was decisive. Sylvester opened with a trey, Williams converted off a steal, Edwards put in two layups and Sylvester rang the bell twice more from long range. Riggs went over three defenders for a layup, then followed up with two more inside shots and a free throw.

Williams sprang up for a crowd-pleasing block during this spree.

D-B’s board game became so dominant that the Tribe got five offensive rebounds in the last 20 seconds of the third quarter.

The Lady Indians (10-5, 5-2) were in midseason form, defeating Science Hill 59-54 in the preliminary.

They rallied from a 28-20 halftime deficit on the scoring of Megan Devine, Blaine Frohlich, Olivia Blair, Tori Head and Juli Osborne.

Devine led with 15 points, Frohlich scored 13 and Head got 10. Nine players had a hand in the scoring.

“We’re playing a lot of people,’’ D-B coach Roger France said. “It’s exciting. If someone doesn’t do well, another player steps up. Depth has been the key to our recent success. Everybody is contributing something. We have good size and great chemistry.

“Free throws have been big for us all year. I was disappointed with the way we finished the first half — giving up eight points in the last 1:52 — but pleased with our overall effort tonight.’’

Winning the tournament at Chattanooga put D-B’s play on an upswing. “We faced three really athletic teams down there,’’ France said. “They put pressure on us and how we handled it apparently helped us tonight.’’

Jordan Douglas (17 points) and Johneshia Good (14) were the scoring leaders for Science Hill (10-8, 4-3).

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