JOHNSON CITY—The Oak Ridge Wildcats are heading back to the state tournament in Murfreesboro next week after their comeback 55-53 win against a hungry Science Hill group at Tuesday night’s Class AAA Sectional game. Two free throws by sophomore Tee Higgins with 5.1 seconds left and a defensive block by junior Javien Johnson with 0.8 seconds left helped the Wildcats pull away with the victory.
It seemed that Science Hill (23-15) couldn’t miss from the floor in the first half. The Hilltoppers hit six three-pointers in the first half—four in the first quarter alone. One of those four included a buzzer-beating three at the end of the first quarter. With the buzzer-beater, the Hilltoppers had a 16-12 lead on the Wildcats.
In the second quarter, Oak Ridge (29-3) fell behind quickly. At one point, the Wildcats were down 24-14. However, thanks to two three-pointers by sophomore DeAndre Gibson, the Wildcats were able to gather themselves and go on a 13-6 run to end the quarter. With one half in the books, Oak Ridge was trailing 30-27.
The second quarter was the only quarter of the game that didn’t have a tie or a lead change. Oak Ridge had three three-pointers in the first half, all of them courtesy of Gibson (2) and sophomore Tajion Jones (1).
The Hilltoppers battled back in the second half. After Oak Ridge jumped out to a 34-30 lead, the Hilltoppers rattled off seven straight points to take the 37-34 lead. Oak Ridge pulled within a point of taking the lead back, and Science Hill drained a three. There actually was a span of 30 seconds in the third that had four consecutive combined threes hit by both teams. However, the Wildcats scored late in the third to give themselves a 44-43 lead with one quarter left to decide who went to the state tournament and who stayed home. [Read more…]