BRISTOL, Tenn. — When the final buzzer sounded, there was no doubt about it — Kris Joseph was king of the Hill.
Joseph turned Archbishop Carroll’s Arby’s Classic quarterfinal contest against Science Hill into a 32-minute highlight reel, helping the team from Washington, D.C., earn a 75-57 win over the Hilltoppers on Friday night.
The 6-foot-7 forward dropped 32 points on 13-of-16 shooting, using an array of spin moves, a few slashes and a breakaway double-pump slam to wow the crowd.
Joseph, a Syracuse signee, also pulled down 11 rebounds to go with seven steals, three blocks and two assists.
“He’s Syracuse bound,” Archbishop Carroll coach Clinton Perrow said with a shrug. “That speaks for itself.
“When you have somebody that big and that versatile, it just opens up so much.”
With Science Hill focused on finding a way to stop Joseph, a task made more difficult with starting post Ashlon Adams unavailable due to an illness, the Lions found enough openings to hit 66 percent of their shots and outrebounded the Hilltoppers 22-13.
“We had no answer for them inside,” Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip said. “They just dominated.”
The Hilltoppers, who held their own by hitting 50 percent of their field goals, were leading 46-43 late in the third quarter when the wheels finally came off.
For the next five minutes or so, Archbishop reeled off a 21-4 run that put the game out of reach.
Perrow credited a rigorous offseason strength and conditioning program and a switch to man-to-man defense as the keys to the Lions’ strong second-half performance.
“I feel like the game is about adjustments,” Perrow said. “We subscribe to the theory that the team that makes the best adjustments at the half wins the ballgame.”
Cutlip didn’t have to look far to find the cause of his team’s collapse — 27 turnovers, many coming late in the game, kept the ’Toppers from answering the Lions’ run.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we ended the third quarter,” he said. “I think (Carroll) stepped it up a little bit in the fourth quarter, but we did a poor job with the basketball.”
Rodney McGruder scored 18 points for the Lions while Aleksander Mitrovic added 10.
Chris Smith went 6-of-7 from the floor and led Science Hill with 15 points while David Molton scored 11 on 4-of-4 shooting.
The focus for Archbishop Carroll now turns to a much-anticipated semifinal matchup against Columbia, Ga., which beat Pine Castle Christian 51-38.
With a frontline comprised of three players all primed to play Division I basketball next year, Columbia held Pine Castle to 30 percent shooting, outrebounding the Florida school 33-20.
The Eagles from Columbia jumped out to a quick 10-point lead, but the Eagles from Florida didn’t allow Columbia to run away and hide.
Instead, Pine Crest forced 22 turnovers, using a swarming defense to keep things interesting.
“I’m really pleased with our second-half effort,” Pine Crest coach Mark Rickman said. “After getting down 12 or 14, we could have just rolled over but we didn’t.”
In the end, Columbia’s trio of Travis Leslie, Darius Morrow and Kenny Mitchell was just too much for Pine Crest. The Georgia squad pounded the ball inside and hit 50 percent of its shots to maintain the double-digit advantage.
Leslie who is considering a scholarship offer from Texas Tech, scored 23 points to go with six rebounds and four blocks, while Morrow, who already signed with South Carolina, added 12 points and 10 boards.
Mitchell, who is considering offers from Clemson and South Carolina, scored seven points after spending much of the game on the bench with foul trouble.
With Pine Crest behind him, Columbia coach Dr. Phil McCrary is excited to face off against Archbishop Carroll tonight.
“That’s a legacy right there — they’ve always had a great program,” he said. “We’re just going to go out and play hard — we don’t back down to anybody.”