By TREY WILLIAMS
You don’t have to be into moral victories to have recognized that the David Crockett girls basketball team left the court Friday night triumphantly heartbroken after an epic 69-65 double-overtime loss to talented league favorite Science Hill.
Were it not for some Willis Reed-like heroics from Gardner-Webb signee Alasia Smith, who played through bulging cramps down the stretch, the Hilltoppers would’ve left Jonesborough with a stunning loss.
Smith had a block and a steal in the final 40-plus seconds of the second OT to help rescue Science Hill (4-0, 11-6) from its third straight last-minute deficit.
Junior Emma Gouge scored a game-high 28 points for Crockett (2-2, 10-9). Her determined stick-back on a missed free throw led to a three-point play that gave the Pioneers a 48-46 lead with 11.8 seconds left in regulation and her lay-up assisted by Halle Scott (11 points) gave Crockett a 55-51 lead with 1:29 left in the first overtime.
Gouge also gave Crockett a lead in the final OT. Her interior basket put the Pioneers up 61-60 lead with 2:19 remaining.
“Emma’s a competitor,” Crockett second-year coach Tony Gordon said. “She holds herself to standards that a lot of other kids don’t hold themselves to. She used her instincts tonight. Sometimes she gets kind of locked up in trying to run what we run or whatever, and tonight I told them this will be more about making plays than running plays. And she made plays. She made effort plays.”
Science Hill coach Scottie Whaley was extremely complimentary of Crockett in general and Gouge in particular.
“Emma’s a great kid, great family,” Whaley said. “She plays hard. She’s one of the best in our league, too.
“Golly, they played really well and made shots. We got outrebounded and we’ve not been outrebounded much at all. Most of the games we’ve outrebounded people – against athletes and big kids. They just went at us. I told him (Gordon), ‘You’re headed in the right direction down here.’ …
“I told the kids we got outcoached, outplayed. We were not as prepared as we should’ve been, and that won’t happen again, I promise you.”
Alyssa Suits and Mackenzie Baldwin scored 10 and eight points, respectively, for Crockett, which had lost the past six meetings in the series by outcome margins ranging from 32 points (78-46 in 2017-18) to 45 (70-25) last season.
“I think it’s a measuring stick for us that going forward we can play with anybody,” Gordon said. “For them to play against as good a program as Science Hill and be devastated in the locker room – I know it sounds kind of morbid, but that’s what you want, because in the past they would’ve been happy to stay inside of 20 points. They were crying in the locker room because they thought they should’ve won. …
“What I liked was nothing was uncontested. They made some really good shots. Our kids have a major buy-in. They’ve bought in and I just admire their mental toughness and physical toughness. I hurt for them, because I thought we played well enough to win the game.”
David Crockett’s boys lost 67-43 to Science Hill. The Hilltoppers hit 7 of 9 shots from the 3-point range while racing to a large lead in the first half.
The Pioneers (2-2, 11-7) were no closer than 15 in the second half. Crockett was led by seniors Donta Hackler (12 points) and Mack Hensley (10).
“Science Hill’s a great team,” Crockett first-year coach Cody Connell said. “I’ve been saying it from the beginning: they’re the best team in the area. … They played awesome.”
Daniel Boone’s boys gave Science Hill a scare before losing 68-63 at Bobby Snyder Gym on Tuesday. Daniel Boone junior Cade Norris scored a game-high 19 points, including 15 during a 46-29 rally that got the ‘Blazers (2-3, 9-6) within 63-60 on Norris’ off-the-dribble jump-hook with 2:49 to go.
“We were going to him,” Boone coach Chris Brown said. “We were trying to (isolate) him a little bit, and he made plays.”
Jared Atkins and Caleb Head scored 15 and 12 points, respectively, for Boone. Head, a junior point guard that transferred from Science Hill, was impressive, if not overstimulated, and fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
“Oh yeah (he can help us),” Brown said. “He’s quick. He can handle the ball. He’s explosive.”
Perhaps Boone wasn’t quite as charged up on Friday at Dobyns-Bennett. The ‘Blazers lost, 58-37.
Daniel Boone will visit Crockett on Friday.
The Daniel Boone girls bounced back from a 68-30 home loss to Science Hill on Tuesday with a competitive effort at Dobyns-Bennett, but ultimately fell, 42-39, against the Indians.
Jaycie Jenkins scored 27 points and one of her six 3-pointers got Boone (3-2, 8-8) within a point with 15 seconds remaining.
Boone will visit David Crockett on Friday.