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Indians ambush Hilltoppers, 80-65

February 7th, 2007 12:42 am by BILL LANE

JOHNSON CITY - The Big 9 Conference basketball pendulum, after swinging so long in Science Hill's favor, has changed directions.

Dobyns-Bennett ended Science Hill's 13-game home winning streak in the series and virtually clinched a share of the conference title Tuesday night.

With a capacity crowd of 2,000 looking on, the Indians drummed Science Hill out of its own fieldhouse with an 80-65 victory.

It marked D-B's second victory this season over the Hilltoppers, who were ranked No. 6 in The Associated Press Class AAA poll.

At one stretch of the game, D-B held a commanding 24-point lead. The Indians enjoyed such a margin, they gave up 34 points in the final quarter and still won going away.

D-B pounded the Hilltoppers with a high-scoring triangulation - 24 points by Coty Sensabaugh, 20 by Brad Blackwell and 18 by Justin Sylvester.

Sensabaugh, Blackwell and Sylvester were as hot as Science Hill's Omar Wattad was cold.

Wattad needed 29 points to become Science Hill's all-time leading scorer. He managed 20, thanks to a last-quarter surge.

With Sensabaugh constantly on his heels, Wattad experienced a frigid shooting performance. He also missed five straight free throws.

"Coty did a good job on Wattad,'' D-B coach Charlie Morgan said. "Wattad scored 20 but Coty made him earn every point.''

Sensabaugh hit 7 of 14 floor shots. Blackwell went 10-of-15 while Sylvester was 6-of-11.

The Indians outshot Science Hill 49-40 percent and outrebounded the home team 45-30.

Sylvester and Blackwell each had a double-double, gathering 10 rebounds apiece in addition to their scoring. Logan Williamson got nine rebounds and Jordan Edwards eight.

"We knew we could beat them,'' Sensabaugh said. "It was a matter of withstanding their defensive pressure and dealing with the home crowd. We knew they wouldn't give up because they never do. We almost let them back in it.

"Omar is a really good player. His shots just weren't falling.''

Sensabaugh, a natural athlete, was walking with a little extra swagger. He surpassed the 1,000-point plateau in this game. The all-state performer will be signing a Clemson University football scholarship today.

"We're at the top of our game,'' he said. "Hopefully, we'll keep improving. I missed the first half of the season with an injury. Now, everybody's back together.''

Blackwell, who scored eight points in the opening quarter, said teammates made his job easy.

"My points were the result of good guard play," he said. "We handled the pressure well and got easy shots because of it.''

D-B, on top 33-25 at halftime, was cautiously optimistic.

"Coty told us to be ready for (the 'Toppers) to make a run, and they did,'' Blackwell said. "We kept our composure. It's great to have all the missing pieces back.''

Morgan, getting his first win in Johnson City since joining D-B, said the fruits of his team's labors are just beginning to show.

"The time you put in on fundamentals comes to the forefront in games like this,'' he said. "You've got to beat the best to be the best. Right now, we just have to refocus.''

Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip felt his team's defense was too vulnerable.

"(The Indians) dominated us the first 2½ to three quarters,'' Cutlip said. "We were a step slow, offensively and defensively. We gave up too many layups and offensive rebounds.

"The most important thing we've got to do now is try to win games. Statistics won't mean anything if we don't.''

D-B, with its two wins over Science Hill, stands to be the top seed for the District 1-AAA tournament in Bristol if the Indians defeat Daniel Boone on Thursday. Science Hill plays Sullivan East the same night. If D-B (19-7, 12-3) and Science Hill (26-6, 12-3) both win, there will be a tie for the conference championship.

For the past 13 years, Science Hill has either won the conference crown outright or tied for it.

Science Hill's girls, after trailing most of the way, finally caught D-B on Jasmine Foster's layup with 54 seconds to go and scored four points in the last 29 seconds for a 40-36 win.

Top scorers for D-B were Sabra Lawson with 15 and 6-foot freshman Blaine Frohlich with 13. Science Hill counterbalanced their efforts with an even scoring distribution.

D-B quickly ran up an 8-0 lead by getting behind the defense with lob passes for layups. With two defenders on Lawson, front and back, it opened a lane for Frohlich to score nine points in the first half.

D-B controlled play with a half-court game until the Lady 'Toppers extended their defense to force a full-court battle in the final quarter.

The Lady Indians got just four points in the final eight minutes.

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