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Pioneers top Science Hill, Boone


H&T Correspondent

David Crockett senior Mason Britton had a once-in-a-lifetime sort of performance twice in 48 hours last week.

Britton, a 6-foot-4 senior, piled up 30 points, 10 rebounds and four assists while helping the Pioneers shock Science Hill, 66-60, on Wednesday in Johnson City.

Two nights later, Britton scored his 1,000th career point while helping Crockett rally for a road win against archrival Daniel Boone. Britton finished the 50-46 triumph with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Britton entered Bobby Snyder Gymnasium with 995 career points on Friday, and it proved to be a distraction. His 1,000th point came on a free throw late in the third quarter, and Crockett outscored the Trailblazers by 10 points the rest of the way.

It perfectly punctuated a storybook week.

“It was incredible,” Britton said. “Beating Science Hill at their place is not an easy thing to do, but we were laser-focused and eager to play. And then at Boone, it was a great feeling when that free throw went in. I was trying to not think about it too much and just focus on winning the game, but I knew how close I was so it was in the back of my mind for sure. Hitting 1,000 was just proof of how good God really is.”

Britton is averaging 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists per game.

“Mason scored from everywhere (against Science Hill),” Crockett Coach Cody Connell said. “He just finds a way to score. He’s that player. He hit some big threes, a couple of little jumpers. I’m very blessed to have him.”

Britton shouldered the scoring load against the Hilltoppers, who were 10-0 in the Big Seven Conference and 23-2 overall prior to Crockett’s upset. But it was a team effort. The Pioneers were 21-for-21 at the foul line and made 7 of 9 from the 3-point range.

“We played great basketball against Science Hill,” Connell said. “I mean, when you shoot 21-for-21 at the free throw line, it’s gonna be tough to lose. I was really impressed.”

Crockett lost 80-38 to Science Hill in Sevierville on Dec. 29 and dropped a 59-47 decision to the Hilltoppers 10 days later.

“In the second game, if we’d made shots I think we have a chance to win that game,” Connell said. “It was a five-point ballgame with like four minutes to go. … Our guys were locked in and loaded all week (for last week’s game). They just really wanted to win that game. We’d prepared for ‘em, watching film after film after film – just learning their plays and what they’re gonna do. …

“And our guys really came out and made the extra pass, crashed the boards, got the rebound. I thought our guys played great. They hit big shots. Clint (Pierce) had 14 in the first half. (Ayden) Begley had 16 (overall).”

Junior Isaiah Lang (10 ppg) helped fuel the rally at Boone, scoring all 13 of his points in the second half. Lang helped save the day with a final-possession steal in the Pioneers’ previous win against the ‘Blazers this season.

“He came in in the second half and he had steals and made just crazy layups – like close your eyes and throw it in,” Connell said. “On two of the layups he hit, I don’t even know how he got the ball off … or up to the rim. And I just turn to my guys and go, ‘We’ll take it.’ I mean he played great, great basketball in the second half, and that was big. …

“And then Mason finally got his 1,000th. He only needed five, and finally, with like two minutes to go in the third, he gets his fifth point. He couldn’t get a basket to fall in the first half.”

Connell thanked Boone Coach Chris Brown and Athletic Director Danny Good for stopping the game and giving Britton the ball.

“Once he got that (1,000th point), I turned to my coaches and said, ‘That’s a game-changer,’” Connell said. “We were down seven when he went to the free throw line. He hit the free throw to put us down six, came back down and hit a three and I think he ended up scoring eight or nine after that. So it was a game-changing moment for our team when he scored his 1,000th point, for sure.”

Britton is quick to reroute attention toward teammates.

“Isaiah is such a great athlete and he’s been a big-time player in multiple games this year, especially the Boone games,” Britton said. “I’m really proud of Clint Pierce, Jacob Ayers, Colton Estep and Ethan Barnett. Before this season, none of them had much varsity experience, but they have all stepped up in a tremendous way and are really good players.

“Ayden Begley has been a huge player for us also. He scores and hits the open guy and he’s such a good teammate. We’re real blessed to have him as well.”

Begley is averaging 16 points and six assists per game. Estep is averaging seven rebounds.

Crockett will host the Daniel Boone-Cherokee winner on Wednesday in a do-or-die District 1-AAA tournament game. A regional berth is at stake.

Daniel Boone, which finished 2-10 in the league, was scheduled to play at sixth-seeded Cherokee on Tuesday after press time for the Herald & Tribune.

The Trailblazers got 16 points from Cherokee transfer Breiydon Gilliam in the loss to Crockett. Caleb Head added 11.

The David Crockett girls completed their first regular season sweep of Boone with a 40-30 victory on Friday. Junior reserve Kadence Fannon was 6 of 7 from the field and scored all 12 of her points in the second half for Crockett, which completed its third-place standing in the Big Seven.

The Daniel Boone girls, which got nine points from Savannah Jessee, were also scheduled to open district tournament play at sixth-seeded Cherokee on Tuesday after press time for the Herald & Tribune. The winner will visit Crockett on Wednesday at 6 p.m.