A sibling rivalry broke out during Daniel Boone’s visit to Science Hill on Friday, and the Trailblazers’ bright future gave way to the Hilltoppers’ steady present.
Science Hill senior point guard Hunter Hensley scored 12 points while making 4 of 5 three-point attempts and handed out eight assists as the Hilltoppers opened the Big Seven Conference schedule with a 63-46 victory.
Science Hill’s girls also beat Boone in both teams’ league opener.
Hensley scored six of his points in the first 2:20 of the second half, helping the ‘Toppers (1-0, 4-1) build a 45-27 lead while opening the third quarter on a 15-4 run. Hensley capped the decisive spurt by feeding post Ian Martin (eight points) for an interior basket with a pass from the left corner.
Hensley’s brother Holden is a freshman point guard for the Trailblazers (0-1, 2-2). Holden finished his conference debut with six points and several crowd-pleasing plays, including a no-look, over-the-shoulder interior pass that got Ty Jones a layup to start a 6-0 Boone run late in the third quarter.
Boone’s Dillon Reppart led all scorers with 19 points, including a baseline drive that cut Science Hill’s lead to 47-35 at the end of the third quarter. But Hunter Hensley opened the fourth period with his fourth trey – via a kick-out from Calvin Songster (14 points) – and Boone was generally kept at bay while getting no closer than nine the rest of the game.
Hensley, who missed Tuesday’s loss to Elizabethton with a concussion, was just happy to perform well while enjoying competing against his brother in an awkward matchup. On the game’s first possession, Hunter was whistled for an offensive foul after sending Holden to the floor in the backcourt.
Hunter said he wasn’t sending a message and there was no trash-talking between him and his confident little brother.
“He’s a tough competitor and a good defender, but it was fun going up against him tonight,” Hunter said. “We’re used to playing against each other and we kind of know what each other is gonna do, and that just made it even tougher. … We were telling each other, ‘Good job.’”
Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip had a similar rivalry with his younger brother, Richie, and said he always tended to try and do too much in that situation.
“Hunter didn’t do that,” Cutlip said. “Hunter played within the system. He did what we needed him to do tonight and had an unbelievable game.”
It would’ve been easy to get caught up in the moment. Boone fans began a “He’s a freshman chant” after Holden cut Science Hill’s lead to 28-23 late in the second quarter with a 15-foot pull-up off a crossover dribble.
Science Hill fans responded with “Hunter’s better” after his hot start in the second half, and “Holden’s better” could be heard after his 17-footer off the dribble got Boone within 45-33 late in the third.
Post Caden Wampler made three of Science Hill’s 11 treys en route to a team-high 15 points. His 3-pointer from the left corner gave the Hilltoppers a 53-35 lead with 5:54 left. It was part of an eight-point quarter for Wampler.
“Caden hit some big shots there at the end of the game that kind of gave us the edge we needed,” Hensley said.
Wampler also had five rebounds and four assists.
“He has really turned into one of our hardest workers,” Cutlip said. “He’s capable of scoring, but I don’t think that’s been his focus. He’s doing anything he can to help this team. Tonight had had open looks and he stepped up and knocked them down.”
Junior point guard Malik McGue, still getting his wind while transitioning from football, led Science Hill with four steals. Peyton Wingate had four assists and Daniel Sweeney tallied three steals for the Hilltoppers.
“We just had too many turnovers,” Boone coach Ryan Arnold said. “Our youth and inexperience showed at the wrong times. We had 22 turnovers … and we let them get too many second-chance points. Those things just kill you.”
Arnold did manage a hint of a smile while thinking about Reppart’s skills and Holden Hensley’s snazzy assist. Smiles haven’t come easily since promising sophomore guard Ryan Keever tore an ACL during the final football game of the season in what was already a rebuilding year for Arnold.
“Holden’s gonna be a great player,” Arnold said. “We’re very fortunate to have him, very happy to have him. He’s grown up so much because he’s had to here lately, you know, with (Ryan) Keever being hurt.”
Reppart, a wiry 6-foot-3 southpaw, looked like the best player on the floor in terms of creating his own shot. He whirled near the block and pulled up in the mid-range to convert transition opportunities, and made a 12-foot turnaround look routine.
“Without a doubt, he’s one of the best players in the league,” Cutlip said. “We knew that coming in, and he had an outstanding game. It’s not only his individual talents where he goes out and scores and stuff; he makes those other kids around him better.”
Science Hill plays Lenoir City in a tournament at Farragut on Tuesday. Boone plays Happy Valley in the Hardee’s Classic on Monday.
Senior point guard Tianna Tarter had 12 points, seven assists and five steals and senior post Gabby Lyon scored a game-high 16 points as the Lady ‘Toppers steadily pulled away from the scrappy Lady ‘Blazers.
Science Hill was cold from the perimeter in the third quarter despite getting numerous open opportunities, but held Boone to six points for 12 1/2 minutes of the second half. Science Hill (1-0, 4-0) has been steady defensively in the early going this season. Baylee Head, a 6-foot-1 wing, had three blocked shots, and Lyon had a rejection.
“Baylee, I think her best basketball is ahead of her,” Science Hill coach Keith Turner said. “When she realizes she can turn it loose – and with her length, she’s rotating and helping and, I mean, she’s swatting them. And she’s starting to enjoy it. … Our goal is to hold people under 40 points, and we’ve done that all four games.”
Science Hill’s Keisha Gregory defended primary perimeter scorers. She also had 15 points, including three of the Lady Hilltoppers’ five 3-pointers.
Gregory went on a personal 7-0 run in a 72-second span during which the Lady ‘Toppers built a 22-9 lead early in the second quarter. She made a floater across the lane, a transition trey assisted by Head and parlayed a steal into a fast-break basket during the spurt.
Turner said Gregory had a “rock-solid performance.” Her final trey came thanks to quick ball movement: Tarter kicked out in the corner to Head, who immediately found Gregory trailing in transition for a 44-24 lead early in the fourth.
“Gabby and Keisha were special for them tonight,” Boone coach Travis Mains said, “and Baylee Head disrupted a lot of things we were trying to do. … We let those early blocked shots affect how we play.”
The Lady Trailblazers settled for many shaky perimeter shots. They finished 1 for 16 from 3-point range.
Mains liked the effort from Autumn Bradshaw, who scored 10 points. Ali Littleton added seven for Boone (0-1, 2-2).
“They (Lady ‘Blazers) play hard,” Turner said. “I just think our overall size and speed is the difference. Even though they were trying to shut Gabby down we still got her the ball in some good spots.”
Science Hill plays Knox Halls on Tuesday. Boone plays host Happy Valley in the Ramey Ford Thanksgiving Classic on Saturday, Nov. 30.