KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett basketball coach Charlie Morgan is big on slogans.
His most recent one on the chalkboard must have gotten through to 6-foot-10 forward Bronson Flack. It read: “Develop a love for details — they usually accompany success.’’
Flack, on the brink of disqualification with four personal fouls, boldly blocked two shots in the final seconds Tuesday night to preserve a 67-66 win over Science Hill.
The victory clinched the Big 9 Conference championship outright.
Eighth-ranked D-B was ahead 66-64 when Chris Smith penetrated the lane for a jumper with 30 seconds left to play. Flack knocked the ball out of his hands.
With the lead cut to 67-66, a driving Dionte Grey pulled up for a 10-foot shot. Once again, Flack slapped away the ball, this time with three seconds remaining.
“I knew I had four fouls,’’ said Flack, enjoying pizza and Gatorade outside the dressing room after 3,500 fans witnessed his defensive heroics in one of the most exciting finishes of the season. “Both times I was going after the ball regardless of my fouls. The outcome was on the line.
“On the last one, I was trying to keep from bumping Grey with my body. He faded and it gave me a chance to lean into my block. On the first one, Smith put the ball right in front of me and all I had to do was extend my hand.’’
Flack said he works in practice every day on such situations.
“The key is to stay on your feet and avoid physical contact with the shooter,’’ he said.
Morgan said Flack’s two blocks not only prevented Science Hill from having a chance to score but kept the ball inbounds as well.
Before the Hilltoppers’ final shot, coach Ken Cutlip called two successive timeouts with 5.5 seconds left to play.
“We suspected Science Hill would be in a 1-4 offense and running a backdoor screen play,’’ Morgan said. “This gave us time to tell our guys how to defend against it.’’
D-B led most of the game but it was a seesaw battle after the Hilltoppers caught up at 45 on a layup by Ashlon Adams with 3:55 to go.
The Indians, charged with 27 fouls, lost Marshall Hardy by disqualification with 3:49 left and Jordan Edwards with 1:41 showing. It may have been just a matter of time before Flack and Darren Riggs joined them on the sideline.
Edwards led D-B with 14 points and seven rebounds. Flack had 10 points and six rebounds.
“Edwards and Flack didn’t score a lot but they played defense,’’ Morgan said.
Hardy and Dustin McConnell also scored 10 each.
Science Hill’s scoring leader was Josh Odem with 16.
The Hilltoppers made 26 of 39 free throw attempts.
D-B (22-3, 15-0) outshot Science Hill (20-7, 12-3) by a 47-36 percentage and barely outrebounded the visitors 31-29.
The Indians missed seven free throws in the last quarter and took a couple of untimely shots near the end.
“To play the game right, you must have a good basketball IQ,’’ Morgan said. “I wanted our guys to finish the game smarter, but I’m proud of the way they hung in there. We were very fortunate. We don’t seem to do anything the easy way. Offensively, Science Hill took it to us.’’
Guard Jamel Williams threw in a 60-foot shot just as the third- quarter buzzer sounded but it was a split-second too late.
D-B closes out the season at home Thursday against Daniel Boone hoping to complete a perfect conference record. Science Hill is at Sullivan East on Thursday and at Cherokee on Friday.