BRISTOL, Tenn. — There weren’t a lot of points scored during Dobyns-Bennett’s game at Tennessee High on Tuesday night. Afterward, nobody was handing out any style points, either.
But the Indians were able to stay one step ahead of the Vikings all night, and the hard-earned 50-39 victory they walked out of Viking Hall with kept them within one game of Science Hill as the Big 8 Conference race approaches its midway point.
“I thought if we could keep the lead, we’d be OK,” D-B coach Charlie Morgan said. “If they got the lead, I knew it would be tough in here. And when you’re not shooting the ball particularly well, it can even put more pressure on you.”
The Tribe (11-4, 5-1) took the lead early behind big man Connor Mitchell, who scored nine of his game-high 17 points in the first quarter. D-B clung to a 15-11 lead at the end of the first period after Mitchell combined an array of deft post moves with a few second-chance points earned through some hard work on the offensive glass.
“I think the thing that really helped us was Connor Mitchell’s play early,” Morgan said. “He got some points in the paint, and I think that took a little bit of pressure off of our perimeter players.”
Even though some of the heat was taken off D-B’s perimeter players, their shots didn’t drop for most of the night. The lack of made shots kept the Indians from getting into their full-court press and ramping up the pace of play.
While the Vikings (12-8, 2-4) forced the Tribe to keep grinding away, Tennessee High point guard Caleb Easterling generated enough offense to keep his team in the game. Easterling finished with 13 points, teaming with forward Chare Brunscomb, who scored 10, to give Tennessee High a chance.
But turnovers ultimately scuttled the Vikings’ hope of scoring a win. Tennessee High turned over the ball 25 times, costing itself several opportunities to take control of the game.
D-B finally pushed the lead to double figures for the first time on a foul shot by Thomas Palmer with 1:30 remaining in the contest. Palmer finished with nine points.
It was another frustrating outing for Tennessee High coach Roby Witcher, whose team scored just 35 points in a loss to Sullivan South last Friday night.
“We’ve done some good things, but it’s a very young basketball team, and right now we’re growing,” Witcher said. “There’s no other way to do it except to go do it, and our conference does not allow you to have a bad night.”
In the girls’ contest, Ashlee Mitchell cut loose for 32 points and her Lady Vikings beat the Lady Indians 67-50.
Tennessee High (14-3, 5-1) broke the game wide open by outscoring D-B (11-5, 3-3) 22-7 in the third quarter.
Lady Vikings coach Barry Wade said clamping down on D-B post Alex Anderson was a huge key to victory. Much of D-B’s offense flows through Anderson, but she was held to just four points on Tuesday.
“We just really pressured her,” Wade said. “When she got the ball at the high post, we wanted to be in her face.”
Sasha Morrisette led D-B with 20 points.