MURFREESBORO — For the second straight game, Science Hill simply overwhelmed its opponent.
It’s highly unlikely to be that easy today.
The Lady Hilltoppers crushed Memphis Overton 65-32 in the semifinals of the Class AAA state basketball tournament at Murphy Center on Friday.
Improving to 35-3, Science Hill set up a rematch of last year’s title game. Standing in the way is the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, Murfreesboro Riverdale. The Lady Warriors (34-0) whipped Memphis Central, 85-64.
Science Hill is ranked No. 11 in the nation by MaxPreps.
Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. (EST) and the game will be televised on WEPT-TV, Tri-Cities Channel 2.
Riverdale defeated Science Hill 89-70 in the State Farm Classic at Riverdale back on Dec. 22. Another high-scoring game may be in the works.
“We like to play fast,” said Hilltoppers’ head coach Darrell Barnwell. “It’s a good matchup for us. Look at the game at Riverdale — and I stress, at Riverdale — we scored 70 points. We turned it over too much and got in foul trouble, but it wasn’t like we weren’t able to do the things we do.”
Getting to Riverdale didn’t take a lot of sweat. After falling behind 6-2, the Lady Hilltoppers went on a 14-0 run to seize control of the game.
“We were playing bad defense,” said Tianna Tarter, who finished with 11 points and seven assists. “We had to turn it up.”
Overton got within 16-10, but Keisha Gregory silenced that with eight straight points and Science Hill had a 24-10 lead late in the second quarter.
Early in the third quarter, Gabby Lyon powered in a trio of buckets and by the end of the period it 42-19 in favor of the Hilltoppers. Lyon was a force in the paint, finishing with 12 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots.
“I knew they had a lot of athletic girls,” said Lyon. “I had to box out and get rebounds.”
Barnwell said the poor early start may have been a product of the early start, which was 11:30 a.m. central time.
“That may have had a little bit to do with it,” he said. “Also we normally have a walk-through and shoot around, but we didn’t have a place. So we were a little out of our normal routine.”
Overton never really posed a threat because of poor shooting. The Lady Wolverines were 12-of-56 from the field for 21 percent. They missed a sea of layups and point-blank shots.
Also, Overton continued to give up offensive rebounds at an alarming rate. After allowing 29 in the quarterfinals, they gave up 21 to the Hilltoppers. Science Hill won the battle of the boards, 55-30.
Shy Copney produced her usual good stuff for Science Hill. She was very solid with the basketball, and finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. She also added two assists and had just one turnover.
Morgan Knack knocked down a trio of 3-pointers, finishing with nine points and six rebounds. Enjelica Reid added seven points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Overton (32-7) didn’t have a player reach double figures. Phelicia Atkins took 17 shots to finish with nine points.
Notes: Science Hill improved to 5-5 all-time in the state tournament. All of the wins have come in the last three years.
The Lady Hilltoppers reached the semifinals in 2011.
Riverdale is 15-2 all-time in the state tournament. The Lady Warriors seek their fourth state title, having won in 2007, 2010 and last year.
They were runners-up in 1979 and 2011.
Science Hill’s attendance was sparse for the Overton game. An early Friday start probably factored into it. Riverdale had a giant crowd for its game.