GRAY — The underdogs had their moments during Saturday night’s District 1-AAA boys basketball tournament semifinals at Daniel Boone.
In the end though, the top dogs earned berths in Tuesday’s championship game.
No. 2 Dobyns-Bennett fought back a determined effort by No. 3 Daniel Boone to advance with a 67-60 win.
In the nightcap, No. 1 Science Hill used a 9-0 run to end the first half and went on to a 68-47 victory over No. 4 Sullivan South.
The Indians (20-7) stunned the Trailblazers at the beginning of the contest, taking a 10-1 lead after just three minutes. Boone (20-9) answered with a 14-5 run to tie the game at 15 as the first quarter ended.
D-B slipped ahead 32-29 at the half, but 4-0 run to start the second half put Boone on top 34-32.
The Tribe answered with back-to-back 3-pointers by Makale Foreman, and D-B went up for good at 38-36.
Though D-B seemed in total control with a 10-point advantage, 55-45, and only 6:46 left in the fourth quarter, Boone wasn’t finished.
The Trailblazers capped an 8-0 run with four straight free throws after a foul and a technical on D-B, and the Indians’ lead was down to 55-53 with 5:09 left.
“Boone’s trap bothered us there in the fourth quarter,” said D-B coach Charlie Morgan. “The turnovers they got allowed them back into the game.”
Boone was forced to foul with the Tribe ahead 58-55 and a minute to go. The Indians responded by hitting 9 of 12 free throws to seal the deal.
“The free throws in the fourth quarter were the difference for us,” Morgan said. “I’m proud of the guys tonight. They never gave up.
“Our bench came through for us when we had the early foul trouble. I think they learned tonight to trust what you practice and trust your teammates.”
Thomas Palmer led D-B with 17 points. Connor Mitchell added 16 and Foreman had 15.
Ryan Gaitor again was unstoppable for Boone, scoring a game-high 33 points.
“The kids played hard and battled back,” said ’Blazers coach Ryan Arnold. “But D-B had 22 offensive boards and we had three. They just killed us in the paint.”
For the first 14 minutes of their matchup with Science Hill, the Rebels (14-16) played inspired basketball.
The Hilltoppers (33-2), ranked No. 2 in the state, held a slim 25-22 lead with 2:08 to go in the first half and seemed in for a tough fight with the Rebels.
In the blink of an eye, however, Science Hill completely changed the complexion of the game.
Two straight 3-pointers by C.J. Good and another by Patrick Good extended the Hilltoppers’ lead to 34-22 at the half.
Science Hill’s Will Adams opened the third quarter with another trey and suddenly South was down 15, 37-22.
An 8-0 run got the Rebels back to within 39-31 with 3:07 left in the third stanza, but the Hilltoppers answered with a 12-2 run to put the game on ice.
“We shot the ball well tonight,” said Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip. “Those 3s to end the first half got us the separation we needed.”
South coach Mark Pendleton concurred.
“That 9-0 run to end the half kind of doomed us,” he said. “We battled back but they made another run and we couldn’t answer.”
C.J. Good had 18 points and Marc Aples 16 to lead Science Hill.
Michael Harr led South with 15 points and Ryan Headrick added 11.
South and Boone will play in the consolation game on Monday at 7:30 p.m.