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HS Boys Basketball

HS Boys Basketball

Justin PenleyCoach:  Mr. Justin Penley

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Home games are played at Brooks Hall/Gym on the ETSU main campus, listed as Building #9, Brooks Memorial Hall on the ETSU Main Campus Map.




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High school basketball
McKenzie downs University High in state quarterfinals; Meredith has 36 in loss
Jeff Birchfield • Updated Mar 14, 2019 at 8:54 PM

MURFREESBORO — Kaleb Meredith took on an even bigger role for University High with the loss of floor general Marshall Fleenor in Thursday's TSSAA Class A state quarterfinals at Middle Tennessee State University.

The sensational sophomore scored 36 points in the Bucs' 68-49 loss to McKenzie. He was 12-of-23 from the field, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range. He also hit 7-of-8 free throws. However, with point guard Fleenor leaving the game after the first quarter with an ankle injury, the Bucs struggled as a whole, hitting just 17-of-64 shots for 26.6 percent.

University High ended its season at 29-6, while McKenzie improved to 29-3.

"When I saw he went out, I knew we were short one of our best ball handlers, one of our best rebounders, one of our best scorers," Meredith said. "I knew I had to step it up and I knew my teammates had to step it up, too. I felt like we tried and we played with them a long time. Credit them, their big guy shot it inside and their point guard is really talented."

McKenzie's towering post Ben Austin was the big guy which Meredith alluded to, and he proved to every bit the tough matchup expected.

The 6-foot-8 Austin, who plans to attend Union (Tenn.) University, finished with 17 points, 18 rebounds and eight blocked shots. He was one of five McKenzie players in double figures. Nathan Whitsell ended with 14 points, followed by Lazarick Hill with 13 points, point guard Lucas King with 12 and Micah Austin with 10.

"The guys stayed with our game plan on the offensive end and were very unselfish when you look at the boxscore," McKenzie coach John Wilkins said. "Our big guys did a good job protecting the rim. Nate does a good job anticipating and Ben is so long. I have a photo of our walk-through yesterday and Ben's standing there on the floor with his hand halfway through the net."

With Austin setting the defensive tone early, the Rebels jumped out to an early 12-2 lead and never trailed. Still, University High kept it close. The Bucs were down 18-10 at the half and trailed by six points halfway through the second quarter. It was 31-21 at the half before the Rebels pulled away later in the second half.

University High coach Justin Penley liked what he saw with McKenzie.

"They have a lot of the pieces you look for if you were putting together a team," Penley said. "You start with a dynamic point guard and a dominant post. Then you have a wing or two, who can either get to the rim or step back and knock down a three. They have a lot of good pieces, an excellent team whose coach puts them in a position to be successful."


The loss of Fleenor on a play at the end of the first quarter was difficult to overcome. Penley explained the 5-foot-10 junior was much more than the Bucs' second leading scorer, but equally important in other aspects of the game.

"Marshall does a lot for us. It starts with his ball handling and he's an explosive, quick player offensively who takes care of the ball well," Penley said. "He's such a great on-ball defender and you lose that dynamic too. You have the opportunity to adjust, but we didn't get it done tonight."


It was the last game for the senior class of Charlie Vargo, who ended with five points and five rebounds, Colin Daniel and Jake Hubbard. The trio, known for their gritty play, led University High to 48 wins over the last two seasons.

"They're great young people and they gave their best effort day in and day out," Penley said. "Each of them had their moments where they led our team. That's what's special about them. That senior class has played so much, not just during the four seasons they've been here, but in summer leagues and the work they did in the offseason.

"We're going to miss them for sure. I hope when they look back and assess their time at University School, they had a good time playing in our program and see how they grew as players and young men."


As a whole, it was University High's best season in recent memory and the first state tournament appearance since 2008. The Bucs swept Watauga Valley Conference, District 1-A and Region 1-A championships before winning their sectional game against Harriman.

"It was a special season for us," Penley said. "I'm so proud of these guys, the work they put in the offseason to give themselves a chance to be special this season. We made a ton of plays and on any night, it could be a number of players who could lead us in scoring.

"What people sometimes don't pay attention to or what doesn't show up in the box score is how each player played their role on a given night. We had some kids come off the bench and be productive for us. Tonight, we weren't efficient enough on offense. One game doesn't define the season. Of course, we would have liked to have gone further, but we enjoyed the season and I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish this year."

Tall Task Ahead for University High Against McKenzie
Tall Task Ahead for University High Against McKenzie....The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
Tall task ahead for University High against McKenzie
Jeff Birchfield • Mar 12, 2019 at 7:09 PM

University High will face a tall task in keeping its dream season going Thursday in the TSSAA Class A state quarterfinals.

The Bucs, who enter the tournament with a 10-game winning streak and sweeps of Watauga Valley Conference, District 1-A and Region 1-A titles, will face McKenzie and its 6-foot-8 senior post player Ben Austin.

It will be a showdown of teams that have beaten the previous two state champions. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (EDT) at Middle Tennessee State University's Murphy Center.

UH is 29-5 on the season while McKenzie is 28-3.

"Our kids are excited. They understand the challenge, but they are a confident bunch and have the mindset they're going to compete," University High coach Justin Penley said. "They're going to play hard and let the chips fall where they may."

The Rebels are also red hot, bringing a 13-game winning streak into the tournament. The streak includes a 54-51 win over defending state champion Loretto in the Region 6-A championship. It was McKenzie's first region championship since 1974.

Austin has been the Rebels' leader with averages of 17.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. However, he was the second player who Penley noticed on film.

"Their point guard (Lucas King) is really dynamic," Penley said. "He's an excellent ball handler, who can score at the basket or shoot deep. He has a wide and varied skill set, a handful for us. Then you go to Ben Austin, who is a legitimate 6-8 and as good a player with his back to the basket as you imagine. He can also step out and shoot it behind the 3-point line. Some of the coaches who have scouted them and played them feel like he's their best 3-point shooter."


Kaleb Meredith, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, leads University High with 18.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He is hitting a little over 50 percent from the field and almost 40 percent from 3-point range. He also has a team-best 89 steals.

Point guard Marshall Fleenor is part of a perfect 1-2 punch with per-game averages of 11.5 points and 3.9 assists.

"We think they're a tough matchup for other teams, and they have a lot of good players around them," Penley said. "I feel like another strength for us is going on the road in our conference and playing at places like Hampton, Cloudland, North Greene and Unaka. Those are battles when you're on the road in our conference."

The Bucs are much more than a one-man or two-man team, evident in their 45-33 win over Harriman in the sectional round. University High increased its lead over the school, which won the 2017 Class A state championship, with its two leading scorers out of the game.

Jake Hubbard, University High's senior post, has averaged 8.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Charlie Vargo is averaging 7.6 points per game, followed by Colin Daniel at 6.7 and Mason Broome at 6.3.

While his point production isn't as high, Matthew Carter has proven to be a capable backup at the point.

"This is probably the deepest team we've had and I feel that's one of our advantages over almost any Class A team," Penley said. "We can go 8-9 deep and each one of those kids understand their role. Matt Carter comes in and helps us with ball handling. Zach Rice really has bought into the defense, the screens, the box-outs.

“Each of the guys have different skill sets and are willing to do whatever it takes for our team. When you have guys like that, you have a chance to be special.”


While Austin and King have paced McKenzie most of the season, it was 6-foot-3 junior forward Nate Whitsell who led the Rebels' charge over East Robertson. Whitsell had 22 points, 18 in the second half, to lead McKenzie to a 69-57 win over the Indians and the team’s first state tournament berth since 1998.

Whitsell earlier won District 11-A tournament MVP honors, although Austin has continued to flourish, scoring 27 in the win over East Robertson.

"He's a capable outside shooter," Penley said. "He can drive the basketball, strong off the bounce. He causes a lot of problems as one can imagine. They've won at least 26 games each of the last four years, so they're very well coached and very disciplined."


University High is making its first state tournament appearance since 2008 and sixth overall with a 2-5 all-time state record.

Then named the Junior Bucs, they made the state's final four that season after a 73-58 quarterfinal win over Knoxville Grace Christian. Josh Padgett led the way with 27 points, while William Burton had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Alex Denton and Evan Collins also hit double digits with 12 points each.

The 2003 team also reached the semifinal round with a 55-49 win over Cosby in their first game. Brandon Bradley had 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Danny Quick scored 11 points and John Tillman finished with eight.

Todd Easterling (13), Alan Brown (12) and Joey Cowan (10) reached double figures in UH’s 1989 loss to Perry County by a score of 71-61.

In 1984, Harold Jarningan had 23 points while John Shulman (12) and Steve Loyd (10) chipped in during an 84-71 loss to Frank Hughes.

In 1983, UH lost a tough 66-61 decision against Goodpasture Christian. John Phillips led UH with 24 points while John Shulman added 11.


University High Draws McKenzie in Quarterfinals
The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
University High draws McKenzie in quarterfinals
Jeff Birchfield • Mar 5, 2019 at 7:56 PM

Something's got to give in University High's quarterfinal matchup in next week's TSSAA Class A state tournament.

After sweeping Watauga Valley Conference, District 1-A and Region 1-A championships, the Bucs (29-5) will put a 10-game winning streak on the line against McKenzie (28-3), which enters the state tournament with a 13-game winning streak. Tip-off is scheduled for Thursday, March 14 at 5:30 p.m. EST.

University High coach Justin Penley plans on getting familiar with the Rebels over the coming days.

"You try to gather all the information you can, lean on your contacts across the state," Penley said. "You want to get your hands on some film, some scouting report to know what you're up against. I feel we're helped by the fact our district is really strong and we've been in the grind, in several close games."

University High is on the opposite side of the bracket of Cosby, which the Bucs defeated 54-51 in the Region 1-A championship game, and pre-tournament favorite Manassas.

Kaleb Meredith leads the Bucs with 18.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Other leaders include Marshall Fleenor with 11.5 points and 3.9 assists per game and Jake Hubbard with 8.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

The Rebels, who beat defending state champion Loretto 54-51 for the Region 6-A championship, are led by 6-foot-8 Ben Austin, who has averaged 17.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

A full game preview will be in next week's Johnson City Press.


University High Defeats Harriman for State Berth

Many, many Bucs fans in the stands cheering us to victory!

University High Defeats Harriman for State Berth

University High Defeats Harriman for State Berth

Go, Bucs, Go!

University High Defeats Harriman for State Berth

Bucs win Sectional Game for State Berth! 

View segment on WJHL - University High is state bound for the first time since 2008

The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
University High defeats Harriman for state berth
Jeff Birchfield • Updated Mar 4, 2019 at 10:42 PM

Next stop Murfreesboro for the University High boys basketball team.

The Bucs outhustled and outplayed Harriman to earn a 45-33 win in Monday's TSSAA Class A sectional at Brooks Gym. It gave University High its first state tournament berth since 2008 when the Bucs advanced to the semifinals in coach Justin Penley's first year.

Eleven years later, Penley preached defense and rebounding to get University High back to Middle Tennessee State University. His winning sermon came on a night when both teams struggled offensively. University High hit 16-of-41 from the field and Harriman was 13-of-35.

"We came in here with a game plan and our kids executed it," Penley said. "Harriman is a better team than they showed tonight, but our team was just locked in. They continue to play hard. We made sure we contested shots and boxed out. Offensively, we weren't efficient tonight, but it wasn't from lack of effort. You're going to have nights like that, so that's why you have to have as the foundation of your program, the ability to defend."

Kaleb Meredith led the Bucs (29-5) with 10 points and eight rebounds. However, Meredith went just 2-of-9 from the field. He missed much of the game with foul trouble and later when he had to switch uniforms because of blood on his jersey.

During a stretch in the second half when both Meredith and point guard Marshall Fleenor were out of the game, the Bucs actually increased the lead.

"That was the most amazing feeling you could ever ask for," Meredith said. "Of course, I trust them, but there is usually a load on me to produce. To know my shot wasn't falling and Marshall and I weren't in the game, it gives me so much hope for the rest of the postseason.

"You see it in practice. The guys who don't see the floor as much are still out there working hard and that's what makes us a deep team."

Fleenor added, "Our teammates were on point tonight and they really moved the ball. As a team instead of taking a good shot, we took the best shot. It's nice to know when Kaleb and I are out of the game, they've got our backs."

Meredith spurred on University High early, and his a 3-point shot with a second left on the clock to gave the Bucs an 18-16 halftime lead. The Bucs dominated much of the third quarter, pushing the lead to as many as 14 points before taking a 35-26 lead into the final period.

Charlie Vargo added muscle inside and finished with eight points overall. But, he commented the game was won more on the gritty plays than the pretty plays.

"That's what we focused on going in," Vargo said. "Every day in practice, coach is like rebound and that's all we do. It's all defense and box-outs. We knew it was a win or go home game. For me as a senior, this is what I dreamed of."

It was truly a team effort as Colin Daniel, Jake Hubbard and Fleenor all scored seven points.

Tredin Copeland paced the Bulldogs (27-8) with 11 points and Jaylen McCullum added eight. Harriman wasn't able to get much production otherwise as no other player scored more than five points. University High held a 31-22 rebounding advantage, including 10-4 on the offensive end.

"We were getting extra scoring opportunities, and we were also limiting their offense," Penley said. "They wanted to play fast because they have what I call "spurtability" where they can put a run of 6-8 points together in a hurry.

"We were able to limit that for the most part with the way our kids sprinted back on defense and fanned out. We wanted to limit their opportunities, their second-chance opportunities and for the most part we did that."



Bucs Win Region Title, Plays in Sectional on Monday
Bucs Win Region Title, Plays in Sectional on Monday, March 4th, Brooks Gym, at 7:00 p.m.  Come out and cheer our Bucs!

View WJHL Segment - University High wins regional title, while Dobyns-Bennett and North Greene girls fall

The following articles were printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball

UH gets Cosby at the end, nabs Region 1-A title
Gene Renfro • Updated Feb 28, 2019 at 10:29 PM

KINGSPORT—University High knew when to lead in the Region 1-A boys basketball championship on Thursday night.

The first lead for the Buccaneers came with 70 seconds left and University High held off Cosby for a 54-51 win at Sullivan North's Carroll Gym.

University High went to 28-5 and extended its winning streak to nine games. Next for the Bucs is a home sectional contest, scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m., against Harriman inside Brooks Gym. Cosby (23-8) has to travel to Oneida for its sectional game on Monday.

"Obviously I'm ecstatic, I'm so proud of my guys who kept grinding and kept grinding," University High head coach Justin Penley said. "They continued to believe even when Cosby stretched the lead out there. Our guys kept fighting. Down the stretch we made plays. It wasn't coaching adjustments — it was kids making plays."

One of those players who made plays was tournament MVP Kaleb Meredith. He not only scored a game-best 16 points, but did things in the final seconds to earn the honor.

With 22 seconds to go, he laid in a basket to put the Bucs up 52-51 after he created a turnover with a back tip. The Eagles had the ball and a chance to take the lead, but a missed 3-pointer was a rebound for Cosby. A putback attempt was blocked by Meredith, then he was fouled with two seconds left. Meredith went to the free throw line and knocked both shots.

"He's a player, what can you say other than he's a player making plays," Penley said about Meredith. "I think if Kaleb was here he would say he didn't play his best game tonight, but when it counted the most he was at his best."

Cosby was paced by Braden Shaffer, who had 16 points, while Austin McKeehan added 15. Those two helped Cosby build leads as many as nine points, including in the third quarter.

A score from Marshall Fleenor with five minutes left in regulation tied the game at 44 as he finished with nine points. Colin Daniel added a dozen points for the Bucs' cause.

The Region 1-A Championship is the first for University High since the 2008 team reached the state semifinals. A year later the Bucs returned to the Region 1-A final, but fell to Cloudland.

2nd Press Article

High school basketball

UH, Johnson County face sectional challenges
Douglas Fritz • Updated Today at 5:27 PM

University High didn't get a bargain by winning the Region 1-A basketball title.

That's because Harriman lost in the Region 2 final to an Oneida team it had beaten three times previously, sending the Blue Devils to Brooks Gym for Monday night's sectional contest at 7.

At stake will be a trip to next week's state tournament in Murfreesboro.

Harriman (27-7) brings postseason experience into a game the Buccaneers (28-5) hadn't reached in 10 years. The Blue Devils were Class A state champions in 2017.

"Obviously they know what it takes to win in the postseason," said UH head coach Justin Penley. "Their guys have played in a lot of big games, and won't get rattled easily. They are experienced, tough and talented. They play extremely hard and fast."

In another sectional game, Johnson County (27-6) hits the road to play Knox Fulton (25-4) for a Class AA contest. Also, Dobyns-Bennett (30-4) visits Knox Bearden (28-5) in a Class AAA battle.

Penley's team has no reason to shrink away from the challenge. The Buccaneers lost just one game all season to an in-state Class A team, a two-point loss to Hampton. Since then UH has won nine in a row.

"We need to play disciplined, smart and confident," said Penley. "We will need to look to score in transition, but also value the ball. Taking care of the ball is vital, so we aren't fueling their transition game.

"Our guys obviously know what is at stake. I want them to play with great effort and enjoy the moment."

Leading the way for Harriman is 6-foot-4 Jaylen McCullum. He's a perimeter guy who can score from anywhere on the court.

"He's the engine that drives the team," said Penley. "He causes matchup problems because he is an excellent shooter as well as being able to penetrate. He has the size, athleticism and skill to finish at the rim."

Another key player is 5-10 point guard Trezdin Copeland. He can beat people off the dribble and is the Blue Devils' second-best scorer.

UH counters with Kaleb Meredith, who averages 18 points, seven rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. Another standout is Marshall Fleenor (12 points, 4 assists) while Colin Daniel and Charlie Vargo are 3-point weapons.

Boys Basketball Wins Semi-final - Regional Championship on Thursday
Boys Basketball Wins Semi-final!  We will play in the Regional Championship game tonight (Thursday, February 28th), at Sullivan North, at 7:45 p.m.  Come out and get loud! 

The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
University High blows by Unaka, reaches Region 1-A finals
Tanner Cook • Updated Yesterday at 9:18 PM

KINGSPORT — University High came out hot and stayed that way in Wednesday night's Region 1-A boys basketball semifinal 63-42 win over Unaka at Sullivan North.

The Bucs (27-5) claimed a spot in Thursday's championship game, where the will face Cosby. The Eagles defeated North Greene 55-44 in the second semifinal game. The championship game is set for 7:30 p.m. at North.

The win also secured the first sectional berth for UH since the 2008-09 season.

Kaleb Meredith finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucs as they hit 11 3-pointers as a team.

"We played well in the early going and that was really a focal point coming in," UH coach Justin Penley said. "We wanted to try to get off to a really good start. We have a ton of respect for Unaka and what (Aaron) Dugger has done with his guys. We knew they'd be ready and whenever you play Unaka, you have to match their intensity level."

The Bucs shot 61 percent from the field in the first half and 57 percent from 3-point range, nailing five in the opening two periods. Meredith had 14 first-quarter points and the Rangers were having a hard time containing the 1,000-point scorer.

The Bucs got out to a 31-15 halftime lead and never looked back. The Rangers did not make a 3-pointer, which was rather unusual for a team that has historically shot it well.

Senior John Ramsey led the Rangers (14-17) with 13 points while Isaac Hill threw in 12. Will Sexton also finished in double figures for Unaka with 10.

Marshall Fleenor and Charlie Vargo each finished with 11 for the Bucs.

"We have some other kids that do other things that don't always show up on the stat sheet," Penley said. "I know coaches say it as a cliche some times, but this really was a team win. ... I'm proud of my guys. They were locked in offense and defense from the very beginning. It feels good to get to the sectional. It's been a few years since we've been to the sectional and it's always a goal at the beginning of the season to get to Murfreesboro."

The girls championship game, between North Greene and Cosby, will be played Thursday at 6 p.m.


Bucs BB Press - Region 1-A Semifinal On Wednesday
Our High School Boys Basketball team claimed victory Saturday night in the TSSAA Region 1-A boys game at Brooks Gym.  We will be playing in Region Tournament Semi-finals tomorrow (Wednesday, February 27th), at Sullivan North, at 6:00 p.m.  Come support the Bucs!  The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
Third-quarter burst pays off for University High
Johnny Wilson • Feb 23, 2019 at 10:23 PM

Hard to believe that a 24-point blowout of sorts could get lopsided because of one four-minute stretch of basketball, but that was the scenario Saturday night in the TSSAA Region 1-A boys game at Brooks Gym.

Actually it took University High a little less than four minutes to turn a one-possession game into a 16-point runaway advantage, and the Bucs cruised on to a 79-55 quarterfinal win over the visiting Greenback Cherokees.

"The difference tonight was that we played with a sense of urgency," said veteran University High coach Justin Penley. "We knew what was on the line, obviously, with it being a win-or-go-home game.

"We spent an inordinate amount of time in practice drilling rebound, rebound, rebound, because we knew they were taller at pretty much every position. We knew it'd come down to our effort, and tonight we played with great effort."


It all happened so quickly, midway through the third quarter, after potentially scrary Greenback (12-15) had cut a 32-27 halftime deficit to 35-33.

While Greenback was committing three turnovers and missing shots on three one-and-done trips, the Bucs scored on five of six possessions. And they spread it around, with Kaleb Meredith and Charlie Vargo pushing the issue.

Meredith, who led all scorers with 23 points, had a 3-point jumper and an old-fashioned three-point play to fuel a 14-0 spurt, while Vargo scored twice and Marshall Fleenor buried a jumper from beyond the arc.

By the time it had finished, U-High's two-point edge had become 49-33 with 3:04 left in the third quarter.

The Cherokees, who received a team-high 13-point game from Hazen Carlton and an 11-point outing from 6-foot-6 junior Derrell Bailey, faded from there.

"You know, Greenback has some real weapons and we were able to stretch it out in the fourth quarter, but the final score is not indicative of what kind of good opponent Greenback was," Penley said. "Our kids have played a lot of basketball in their lifetimes and they were really engaged in the game tonight. Our kids are not the type who are going to be intimidated."

Vargo finished with 13 points to back Meredith, while Fleenor tossed in 12 and Matthew Carter added 11 for the Bucs.


University High will take its glossy 26-5 record into the Region 1-A semifinal play Wednesday night at Sullivan North, where the Bucs will meet Watauga Conference rival Unaka.

UH Shakes Off Unaka To Win District 1-A Semifinals
UH Shakes Off Unaka To Win District 1-A Semifinals.   We face North Greene for the District Championship at Sullivan North High School tonight (Tuesday, February 19th), at 7:30 p.m.  Come support our Bucs and get loud!!!  The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
UH shakes off Unaka; Hampton girls fall short
Pat Kenney • Feb 16, 2019 at 9:06 PM

KINGSPORT — It was slow start, fast finish for the No. 1 seeds in Saturday's District 1-A basketball tournament semifinals at Sullivan North.

The University High boys and North Greene girls had to shake off sluggish starts before pulling away for wins and earning berths in next week's championship games.

Kaleb Meredith scored a game-high 24 points as the Buccaneers (24-5) finally subdued Unaka 61-42.

The Lady Huskies (25-6) placed four players in double figures on the way to a 47-34 victory over Hampton.

In the boys' contest, a quick start put the Rangers (12-16) on top 10-9 after the first period of play. Then UH's Meredith poured in 13 second-quarter points to give the Bucs a 27-23 advantage at the half.

With 1:29 left in the third quarter, UH held a tenuous 37-34 lead. But from that point on the Bucs went on a 24-8 run to blow the game open.

"Our execution late in the game was good," said Bucs coach Justin Penley. "We've been stressing making mature decisions with the ball. In the second half we challenged them to give better effort — that was the difference."

Mason Broome added 11 points and Marshall Fleenor 10 for the Bucs, who will play in the championship game on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at North.

"Our offense stalled in the second half," said Unaka coach Aaron Dugger. "They closed down the driving lanes on us."

Isaac Hill led the Rangers with 14 points while Will Sexton added 13. Unaka plays in Tuesday's 6 p.m. consolation game.


UH Evades Upset, Clinches Watauga Valley Crown

UH Evades Upset, Clinches Watauga Valley Crown

UH Evades Upset, Clinches Watauga Valley Crown

2019 Watauga Valley Conference Champions!  The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
UH evades upset, clinches Watauga Valley crown
Tanner Cook • Feb 7, 2019 at 11:11 PM

All season long, a view from the top has suited the University High boys basketball team.

On Thursday night inside Brooks Gym, the Buccaneers clinched the Watauga Valley Conference championship with a hard-fought 36-34 win over Sullivan North.

Marshall Fleenor hit a runner from the right side with 25.6 seconds left that put the Buccaneers up for good. Furthermore, Jake Hubbard secured a crucial jump ball with 6.2 seconds left to basically seal the outcome.

On the ensuing inbound pass, Hubbard was fouled and hit one of two free throws and North missed a half-court shot as time expired.

"We weren't at our best tonight, but you have to give North credit for that," said UH coach Justin Penley, whose team finished 9-1 in conference play. "They continued to fight and we had a battle on our hands for all 32 minutes. It went down to the last possession and it could've gone either way."

Kaleb Meredith — who was presented with a plaque commemorating his 1,000th point before the game — led the Bucs (22-5) with 13 points and six rebounds. Fleenor contributed nine points to the victory.

No one scored in double digits for Sullivan North (7-20, 0-10 WVC), but Dale Potter and Evan Bishop each had eight points.

Potter hit a 3-pointer with 1:15 left that put the Golden Raiders up 34-33 and on the verge of a massive upset.

"We were able to gut it out," Penley said. "It was definitely not pretty at times, but at the end of the day it's the results that matter. Tonight was a prime example of the parity that we have in the conference in that anybody can beat anybody on any given night."

The biggest lead for either team on the night was five points when UH had a 22-17 lead in the early stages of the third quarter.


Another Win for our Bucs Basketball
Another Win for our Bucs Basketball!  The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
High school roundup: Longhorns win 17th in a row behind Atwood's 36
Johnson City Press • Feb 5, 2019 at 10:19 PM
University High 76

Cloudland 54

ROAN MOUNTAIN — Kaleb Meredith amassed 27 points, nine rebounds and four assists to lead the Junior Bucs past the Highlanders.

Jake Hubbard added 15 and Marshall Fleenor 14 for UH, which made 10 shots from 3-point range. Hubbard also totaled six boards.

Josh Blair had 14 points and Jordan Coffey had 13 for Cloudland. Conner Birchfield grabbed seven rebounds.


Win Over KACHEA - Kaleb Scores 1,000th Career Point
High School Boys Basketball won over KACHEA on Monday night, 50-38, behind Kaleb Meredith's 21 points and 11 rebounds.  Kaleb scored his 1,000th career point in the win.  Both Boys and Girls teams play tonight (Tuesday, February 5th), at Cloudland, and will be at home in Brooks Gym on Thursday.  Go, Bucs! 

View  Kaleb's shot on UH Boys Basketball Facebook Page


University High Holds Off Unaka in Watauga Valley Contest

University High Holds Off Unaka in Watauga Valley Contest

University High Holds Off Unaka in Watauga Valley Contest

Go, Bucs, Go!  The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
University High holds off Unaka in Watauga Valley contest
Allen LaMountain • Updated January 30, 2019 at 10:19 PM

Having a seven-game win streak interrupted last Saturday, University High looked to start another when Unaka Rangers came to Brooks Gym for a Watauga Valley Conference basketball contest on Wednesday night.

Mission accomplished, but not without some stress. The Bucs pulled out a hard fought 50-47 win over the Rangers to improve to 19-4 overall and 7-0 in league play.

"First of all, I want to say what a great job it was by Unaka," University High coach Justin Penley said. "They are extremely well coached and when you play them, you have to match their energy. We didn't do that in the first half, they outplayed us."

The Rangers (10-14, 2-5) held University High star Kaleb Meredith scoreless in the first half before Meredith caught fire in the second half to end with a game-high 17 points. Jake Hubbard had eight points in both halves to finish with 16 points.

However, the Bucs hit just 5-for-21 (23.8 percent) from the field in the first half and that included just 1-for-12 (8.3 percent) from 3-point range. With that, Unaka took a 16-6 first-period lead and a 23-16 halftime advantage.

University High scored seven straight to close within a bucket, but shortly thereafter, Hubbard was called for a foul and Charlie Vargo a technical foul. The Rangers hit all four free throws and Isaac Hill completed a three-point play as Unaka took a 36-27 lead with 1:14 left in the period.

Five points from Meredith closed University High to 36-32 going into the fourth quarter. The 12-0 run continued as Bucs opened the final quarter with seven straight points for a 39-36 lead.

With the Bucs ahead 45-44 in the fourth, Marshall Fleenor hit two free throws with 1:01 to play and University High held on from there.

"There was no magic formula for this win," Penley said. "We just played with a sense of urgency and pride defensively. Hubbard gave a great effort tonight, his three put us ahead and we had to grind out a conference win when we didn't play our best."

Ryan Johnson scored 12 points to lead Unaka and John Ramsey finished with 11.


University High 61, North Greene 51
University High 61, North Greene 51.  The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
High school roundup: Cyclones down Warriors in Three Rivers battle
Jeff Birchfield • Updated Jan 25, 2019 at 11:30 PM

.....University High 61, North Greene 51

BAILEYTON — Kaleb Meredith went off for 34 points on 12-of-17 shooting as the Bucs remained perfect in the Watauga Valley Conference.

Meredith also had four steals. Marshall Fleenor had nine points and five rebounds.

Colin Daniel hit a pair of long-distance goals to end with six points.

Despite the loss, the Huskies outscored the Bucs 38-18 in the paint and also held rebounding advantage.


Victory for our Bucs Basketball Teams
Victory for our Bucs Basketball Teams!  The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
High school basketball roundup: Boone uses balanced effort to down Cherokee
Jeff Birchfield • Updated Yesterday at 10:55 PM

University High 63, Tri-Cities Christian 42

The Bucs raced out to a 21-5 lead at the end of one quarter and cruised to a seventh straight win.

Marshall Fleenor led the Bucs with 15 points, and Mason Broome came through with 12 points. Charlie Vargo had 10 points and seven rebounds, while Kaleb Meredith scored nine.

Adam Pigeon led Tri-Cities with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Gavyn Etter added eight points.



UH Gets Sweep Over Sullivan North
Go Bucs!  The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

UH gets sweep over Sullivan North
Pat Kenney • Jan 18, 2019 at 11:04 PM

KINGSPORT — University High came to Sullivan North on Friday and gave they Golden Raiders a Watauga Valley basketball lesson.

In the opener, the Lady Bucs schooled the Lady Golden Raiders 51-31 while in the nightcap, the Bucs passed their test with a 64-50 win over the Raiders.

After trailing 12-7 at the end of the first quarter, the North boys opened the second stanza on a 5-0 run to tie the score. But the well went dry for the Golden Raiders (4-15, 0-5) and University High used an 18-3 run to close out the half and take a commanding 30-15 lead.

"We had that dry spell in the second quarter, got sloppy on defense and got into some foul trouble," said North coach Travis Cain. "We laid it on the line in the fourth quarter and made a game of it, but we just dug too deep a hole early."

University High (16-3, 5-0) raced out to a 46-23 lead by the end of the third quarter but allowed North to open the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run. The Bucs stopped the bleeding and kept North from getting any closer.

"Obviously, we're glad to get a conference victory," said Bucs coach Justin Penley. "But we did not finish the game like a veteran, experienced team. We're better than we showed tonight, but give a lot of credit to North. They kept fighting to the end."

Jake Hubbard had 19 points, Marshall Fleenor 14 and Charlie Vargo 12 for UH.

Trey Williams led North with 18 points while Jordan Lovelace, playing his first game of the season after recovering from a broken elbow, added 11.

University High Defeats Providence for Sixth Straight Win
University High Defeats Providence!  The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

University High defeats Providence for sixth straight win
Jeff Birchfield • Yesterday at 10:36 PM

University High continued to roll Monday night with a 72-49 win at Providence Academy for the Bucs' sixth straight win.

Mason Broome cleaned up with 17 points to lead four Bucs in double figures. Kaleb Merdith accounted for 14 points and nine rebounds, followed by Jake Hubbard with 13 points. Colin Daniel matched his uniform number with 11 points.

The Bucs finished 29-of-53 (55 percent) from the field, including 10-of-24 from 3-point range.

Ben Jones had 17 points to lead the Knights, who made 15 of 41 field goals. Gideon Williams had 11 points, while Chris Miller ended with 10 points and six rebounds.

University High Shoots Down Happy Valley
Bucs Victory!  The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
University High shoots down Happy Valley
Jeff Birchfield • Updated Yesterday at 9:48 PM

University High's smothering defense gave Happy Valley little chance Monday night in their non-conference basketball game. The Bucs' red-hot shooting from 3-point range gave the Warriors no chance.

Holding the Warriors to just 21 points through three quarters and hitting 15 of 31 shots behind the 3-point arc, the Bucs romped to a 69-44 win at Brooks Gym.

Marshall Fleenor led the way with 20 points, 15 of them coming on 3-point goals.

"We had good execution coming out," Fleenor said. "We moved ball well and coming off the screens, we got open shots. If the shots weren't there, we found the open man."

Kaleb Meredith totaled a dozen points, while Colin Daniel and Charlie Vargo each ended with 11.

University High was ahead 17-2 early in the second quarter and led by double digits the rest of the way. It was 32-14 at halftime and 46-21 by the end of the third quarter.

"Obviously, very pleased with the defensive effort. I thought our guys were dialed in from the opening tip," University High coach Justin Penley said. "We got off to a good start and although we weren't fluid on offense early, we were more efficient as the game went on."

Bryce Carter paced Happy Valley with 13 points and Noah Stevens was next with seven points. Despite the outcome, all 11 Happy Valley players scored.



Happy Valley 32, University High 23

The Lady Warriors held the Lady Bucs to just three points in the first quarter and two in the third to win their 10th straight game.

Happy Valley did particularly well with a 2-1-2 full court zone trap, forcing a slew of second-half turnovers.

"I think the last time we played them, we had a good defensive third quarter as well," Lady Warriors coach Thomas Gouge said. "We got after them a little bit with the traps and the interceptors did a good job, getting some steals."

Shalyn Whitson was the only player for either team in double figures, recording 11 points. Bailey Ball scored eight and Olivia Absher finished with six for Happy Valley.

"I'm proud of how we're playing," Gouge said. "Sometimes, you have to win ugly. We won ugly on the road and we'll take it."

Mauri Johnson led University High with eight points and Sarah Fisher had five.

BB Press - University High Picks Up Key League Win
Go, Bucs!  The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
High school roundup: Daniel Boone, University High pick up key league wins
Jeff Birchfield • Jan 11, 2019 at 11:32 PM


University High 65, Cloudland 63

Kaleb Meredith hit 11 of 17 shots from the field in a 27-point effort and Jake Hubbard drew a charge with 1.8 seconds left as the Bucs held on for a Watauga Valley Conference victory over the Highlanders.

Mason Broome and Marshall Fleenor each scored nine and Hubbard followed with eight for University High. Meredith also had a team-best seven rebounds.

Josh Blair had 16 points to lead Cloudland. Robert Leeper finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Hunter Shell contributed 10 points, while Conner Birchfield and Dillon Johnson each finished with nine.


Thursday's Game



Cloudland 52, University High 30

Mandy Benfield and Trinity Vines each tallied 13 points to lead the Lady 'Landers over the Lady Bucs. Gracie Freeman added 11 points, nine of them coming from 3-point range.

Amari Johnson had 11 points and Gracie Crabtree finished with nine to lead University High.


University High Basketball News Updates
Our Bucs have been busy during Christmas break!  The following articles were printed in the Johnson City Press: 

UH holds off Hampton for Watauga Valley Conference lead
Joe Avento • Updated Jan 8, 2019 at 10:20 PM

With first place in the Watauga Valley Conference basketball standings on the line, University High made enough plays to come out on top.

Kaleb Meredith had 18 points and 10 rebounds and the Bucs held off Hampton 58-49 Tuesday night at Brooks Gym.

The result left UH 12-3 overall, 3-0 in the conference. Hampton fell to 12-7, 2-1.

"It feels good to go 3-0 in the conference," UH coach Justin Penley said. "It gives us a leg up, but it's early and we have another tough one with Cloudland coming in here on Friday."

Jake Hubbard added 10 points for the Bucs, who led the entire second half.

Colin Daniel connected from 3-point range in the final minute of the second quarter to give the Bucs a 31-22 halftime advantage. Daniel's shot from the left corner bounced high off the iron, but the rim was kind, causing him to break into a smile.

UH went cold in the third quarter and Hampton cut the Bucs' lead to one but just couldn't get over the hump. The Bulldogs missed a free throw that would have tied the game and then missed five shots that would have given them the lead.

"At times, offense was a little bit of a struggle for us," Penley said. "We weren't particularly sharp, but you have to give Hampton a lot of credit for that. Hampton is a good team. They have good athletes and good coaches. It's tough to beat them."

Jordan Bentley led Hampton with 11 points.

Photo gallery: UH vs. Hampton boys' basketball
Joe Avento • Updated Jan 8, 2019 at 8:23 PM

University High makes most of opportunities against Unaka
Allen LaMountain • Jan 4, 2019 at 11:22 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The free-throw line was a good friend to University High on Friday night.

Going 30 of 34 from the charity stripe, the Buccaneers collected a 64-51 Watauga Valley Conference victory over Unaka at Snavely Gymnasium.

Leading scorer Marshall Fleenor made all 10 of his free throws in a 17-point performance, and second-leading scorer Jake Hubbard was 10 of 12 at the line while piling up 16 points. Hubbard also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.

Kaleb Meredith added a dozen points and seven rebounds as the Bucs jumped out to a 21-8 lead at the end of one quarter and led 39-22 at the half before Unaka challenged them in the second half.

"Anytime you play Unaka, you know you're in for a battle," University High coach Justin Penley said. "From tip to buzzer, they give everything they have. Every conference win is a good one for this club, especially when we can come to Unaka and come away with a win.

"I'm proud of my guys. We were 30 for 34 from the free-throw line. We got off to a great start and then relied on our experience to make basketball winning plays down the stretch."

John Ramsey finished with 15 points and nine rebounds to lead the Rangers. Isaac Hill scored 12 points, going 8 for 10 at the free-throw line, and Ryan Johnson finished with 11 points.

While UH moved to 2-0 in league play and 11-3 overall, Unaka slipped to 0-2, 8-7.

University High falters down stretch
Johnson City Press • Dec 22, 2018 at 11:14 PM

HILTON HEAD, S.C. — Completely foiled in the fourth quarter, University High dropped a 61-48 decision to Rock Ridge (Va.) on Saturday at the Seahawk Holiday Classic.

The Buccaneers were outscored 22-3 over the final eight minutes.

Charlie Vargo was the lone man in double digits for UH, pouring in 12 points. Jake Hubbard, Colin Daniel and Marshall Fleenor added nine apiece, with Hubbard also grabbing seven rebounds.

Kaleb Meredith totaled six rebounds to go with his seven points.

UH couldn't slow down Rock Ridge's Alex Fitch, who nailed seven 3-pointers in a 38-point effort.

The Bucs will be back in action today in Hilton Head, meeting Alabama's Calhoun High at 1:30 p.m.


Boys Basketball Victory Over Hilton Head
The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
High school roundup: Rangers slip past Rockwood on the road
Johnson City Press • Updated 12/22/18 at 12:00 AM

University High 75

Hilton Head, S.C. 55

HILTON HEAD, S.C.—Anchored by Kaleb Meredith's 24-point, 13-rebound double-double, the Bucs won convincingly at the Seahawk Classic.

Meredith also made three steals. UH got 19 points and seven boards from Marshall Fleenor, plus a 14-point night out of Colin Daniel.

The Bucs converted a dozen 3-pointers, with Daniel and Fleenor each nailing four.

UH Boys Triumphant Over Happy Valley
The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

UH boys, HV girls prove triumphant
Allen LaMountain • Updated Dec 18, 2018 at 9:56 PM

ELIZABETHTON — University High raced to a healthy halftime lead on the strength of five 3-balls combined with solid defense.

Ultimately, the Buccaneers were never threatened in a 66-42 non-conference win over Happy Valley on Tuesday night at Bayless Gymnasium.

"We struggled a little bit defensively with foul trouble," Bucs head coach Justin Penley said. "A lot of that has to go to Happy Valley. They play hard and they were committed to getting the ball into the hands of Carter because he is a real good player and a matchup problem for us. We had a game plan to guard him and I felt like we executed it well."

Happy Valley was a bit shorthanded for this one with two starters — Dakota Cochran and Noah Stevens — out. Stevens collected two technical fouls on Monday against Cloudland and will miss two games.

The Bucs (6-2) led 13-7 after one period but kicked the offense into high gear in the second quarter, outscoring the Warriors 22-7 with post Jake Hubbard scoring nine and Marshall Fleenor adding eight. UH was up 35-14 at the half.

The Bucs extended to a 49-24 lead by the end of the third quarter as Coach Penley was able to clear his bench.

Kaleb Meredith topped all scorers with 23 points, including four triples, plus he grabbed seven rebounds. Fleenor coupled 13 points with three steals while Hubbard and Colin Daniel each added nine points. Mason Broome pulled down a game-high 13 boards.

Forward Luke Roberts had 14 points for Happy Valley, which got nine from Bryce Carter. Landon Babb contributed six points and seven rebounds.

Basketball Victory Against KACHEA
Basketball Victory Against KACHEA...The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
High school roundup: Greeneville holds off David Crockett
Jeff Birchfield • Dec 18, 2018 at 10:49 PM


University High 80, KACHEA 68

Kaleb Meredith led four Bucs players in double digits with 24 points, sinking 10 of his 13 foul shots. Colin Daniel scored an efficient 22 points, going 5 of 6 from 3-point range and 7 of 8 at the free-throw line.

Jake Hubbard had 15 points and seven rebounds and Mason Broome added 12 points and seven rebounds.

KACHEA was led by Caleb Shinault with 17 points. Jacob Reese finished with 12 points and James Reese had 10 for the Wildcats.



University High 52, KACHEA 29

Callie Newberry had 14 points, while Sarah Fisher and Bekah Rice each totaled nine to lead the Lady Bucs to the win over the Lady Wildcats.

University High limited KACHEA to just 12 second-half points.

Alexia Harper was the leading scorer for the Lady Wildcats with eight points, while Naomi Strickland and Emma Weber each scored six.

University High Wins Early Showdown Against North Greene
Go, Bucs!  The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

University High wins early showdown against North Greene
Jeff Birchfield • Updated Dec 15, 2018 at 12:58 PM

University High used a balanced scoring attack and a stingy defense to beat North Greene 46-39 in boys' basketball action Friday night at Brooks Gym.

In the Watauga Valley Conference opener for both teams, the Bucs held the Huskies to a 1-of-12 effort from 3-point range and limited them to 15 second-half points.

Marshall Fleenor topped the UH scoring with 14 points, going 4 of 6 behind the 3-point line. He was followed by Mason Broome with 11 points, Kaleb Meredith with eight and Jake Hubbard with seven.

Brandon Malone had 19 points and eight rebounds to lead North Greene. Turner Bailey added eight points.


North Greene 47, University High 31

Charlotte Roschkowski and Shelby Davenport each netted 12 points to lead the Lady Huskies over the Lady Bucs in the Watauga Valley Conference contest. Breezy Savage added eight in the North Greene victory.

Gracie Crabtree had a game-high 14 points for University High, which also had six points from Courtney Henley.


HS Boys Basketball News Article - UH Routs Providence
HS Boys Basketball News Article from Johnson City Press:

High school basketball
UH routs Providence, Boone narrowly misses big win over MoWest
Johnson City Press • Updated Dec 8, 2018 at 9:42 PM

The University High Buccaneers were hitting shot left and right shooting 47 percent from the field in a 71-29 win over Providence from late Friday night.

Kaleb Meredith netted 28 points while Marshall Fleenor had 16 as the Buccaneers made quick work of the Knights on Friday night.

The Buccaneers nailed seven 3-pointers in the game and had 25 points in the third quarter to pull away.

UH had 22 points off turnovers and 41 total rebounds. Seven different players got a bucket for the Bucs.

Lady Bucs Defeat Asheville


The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

South holds off Crockett for non-league win
Jeff Birchfield • Updated Yesterday at 10:27 AM

KINGSPORT — Cole Layne scored 22 points as Sullivan South held off David Crockett 63-58 in non-conference basketball action on Tuesday night.

Gavin Parker had 14 points, which included four shots from 3-point range. Gannon Chase and Chase Bowery each finished with nine points for the Rebels.

Mack Hensley and Ayden Begley scored 15 points apiece to lead the Pioneers. Donta Hackler also finished in double digits with 13 points.

Asheville School 61, University High 53

The Blues had three players in double figures — Major Eason with 14 points, Titus Murrison with 12 and Chris Hemphill with 11 to defeat the Bucs.

Kaleb Meredith had a game-high 21 points for University High, which also got 14 points from Marshall Fleenor.


HS Boys Basketball Goes 2-1 In Hardee's Classic

Hardees Classic

Hardees Classic

Hardees Classic

Hardees Classic

Hardees Classic


Congratulations to UH Boys Basketball for going 2-1 in the Hardee's Classic.  Colin Daniel, Kaleb Meredith, and Marshall Fleenor for being named All-Tournament.  The following articles were printed in the Johnson City Press:

University High, Crockett roll in Hardee's openers
Jeff Birchfield • Nov 20, 2018 at 10:27 PM

University High and David Crockett rolled to easy wins Tuesday on the opening night of the 29th annual Hardee's Classic basketball tournament at David Crockett High School.

The Bucs pulled away to an 81-63 victory over five-time Hardee's champion Unicoi County in the first game of the tournament. After its record-setting season on the football field, Crockett romped to an 81-44 win against Claiborne.

In other quarterfinals, Volunteer beat Sullivan South on a last-second shot while Daniel Boone's game with South-Doyle had extended into double overtime at press time.

In the tournament opener, Kaleb Meredith led five University High players in double-digits with 20 points. Marshall Fleenor ended with 17 points, followed by Jake Hubbard with 13 and Colin Daniel and Mason Broome with 11 each.

"It feels good to win over that kind of program, which has had so much success in this tournament," Penley said. "One of the things I'm most proud to see is to have five guys in double figures. That shows how our guys shared the basketball. I thought our defense really picked up in the second half, too."

Ahead by just three points at the half, the Bucs outscored the Blue Devils 20-2 over the first six and a half minutes of the third quarter and never looked back.

Brock Thompson was Unicoi County's leading scorer with 20 points. Brett Lingerfelt tallied 17 and Gavin Casey netted 14.

Following article printed in the Johnson City Press:

University High stuns Crockett, will face Boone in Hardee's final
Jeff Birchfield • Updated Nov 23, 2018 at 11:40 PM

Kaleb Meredith and Colin Daniel combined to score 50 points as University High rallied from a six-point deficit late in the fourth quarter deficit to stun host David Crockett 62-61 in the first semifinal Friday night at the 29th annual Hardee's Classic basketball tournament.

The Bucs will meet Daniel Boone, a 58-50 winner over Volunteer, in tonight's final scheduled for 8. Crockett will face the Falcons in a third-place game at 6:30 p.m.

Daniel was sent to the free-throw line with 2.6 seconds left and made a pair of winning free throws. Crockett's Dawson Wagner came back with a last-second heave from three-quarters court, which bounced around and off the rim at the buzzer.

Daniel, who scored 18 of 20 points from 3-point range, explained he was confident going to the charity stripe with the game on the line.

"I wasn't thinking about anything but making them," Daniel said. "I knew I was going to make them both. It was a good team win. I couldn't be happier."

Meredith, who finished with a game-high 30 points, was equally effective penetrating with the basketball as shooting outside.

"You just get hot sometimes and start feeling it," Meredith said. "I had a couple of shots not fall in the first quarter, so I took it in and got a few layups. That got me rolling and then, you just have to have the mindset that nobody can guard you."

Still, it looked bleak for University High as Crockett pulled out to a 59-54 lead with 2:04 remaining. However, the Pioneers didn't execute down the stretch, forcing some quick shots and giving up an offensive rebound on a missed free throw, which led to Daniel's opportunity.

"The shots weren't falling and we made some bad decisions," Crockett coach John Good said. "When the shots aren't falling, you have to value the basketball. We're a young team and I encourage them to shoot, but we didn't do it at the right time."

Donta Hackler and Ayden Begley each scored 11 points for Crockett. Wagner added nine points.

Meredith scored the last seven points of the third quarter for University High to give the Bucs a 49-47 lead heading into the final period. Mason Broome grabbed eight rebounds and Marshall Fleenor had eight points and six rebounds for UH.

"This will give our kids a lot of confidence because we have that much respect for Coach Good and his program," University High coach Justin Penley said. "We were down a couple of buckets late, but we kept fighting and kept fighting. Colin stepped up, made the free throws with two seconds left and we were able to get it done tonight."

Following article printed in the Johnson City Press:

Boone defeats University High to win Hardee's Classic
Jeff Birchfield • Nov 24, 2018 at 10:36 PM

With a combination of lock-down defense and Chad Heglar's hot hand, Daniel Boone won its first-ever Hardee's Classic championship on Saturday night.

The Trailblazers held University High to 21 first-half points and rolled to a 62-46 win in the championship game of the 29th annual basketball tournament at David Crockett High School.

With host Crockett beating Volunteer earlier in the evening, Washington County schools finished 1-2-3 in the tournament.

Tournament MVP Heglar led the way, hitting 11 of 13 shots from the field for 27 points to go with 11 rebounds and two blocked shots. He had scoring totals of 51 and 17 in the first two games for an average of 31.6 points over three games.

"This is the first time for Boone to get to the championship game, so we had to capitalize," Heglar said. "We slowed it down. When their big man was coming up, we would always 'iso,' and we played our style of basketball. We have a lot of depth on this team this year."

That depth included Judah Hilton with eight points and Derek Percell with seven, while Boone coach Chris Brown also talked about the defensive contributions of Zac Saul, Cade Norris and others.

The 'Blazers never let the Bucs get on track, going up by 16 in the second quarter before leading 32-21 at the half. It was 50-31 at the end of three quarters and the lead was up to 58-36 midway through the fourth.

Boone won the rebounding battle 41-23 and employed a defensive strategy focused on closing the gaps and cutting off the passing lanes.

"We focused on really getting after them," Brown said. "We had to get in passing lanes and be real active with our hands and feet. Defensively, I thought it was our best performance of the year. We wanted to be aggressive, take away their driving lanes and get them off the 3-point line. We talk about wanting to impose our style on people and once we got up, I thought we controlled the game tonight."

Kaleb Meredith scored 14 points and Colin Daniel had 13 to lead the Bucs. Jake Hubbard and Marshall Fleenor each finished with seven points. University High had advanced to the title game by beating a pair of five-time Hardee's champions, David Crockett and Unicoi County, earlier in the tournament.

"We learned a lot about ourselves last night and tonight didn't go our way," University High coach Justin Penley said. "We had good shots. We just didn't knock them down. That's just the game of basketball. It happens that way sometimes. But it was a good tournament overall and we get in these types of tournaments to challenge the kids."


UH Opens In Style, Flattens Washburn
A BIG Thank You to all the students who showed up for Friday night's home basketball games!  We had great support with a huge student section and the basketball teams say, "Thank You!"

Friday night's games were a sweep for the Bucs!  Both the girls and boys teams defeated Washburn.  Kaleb Meredith and Marshall Fleenor led the boys team, both scoring in double figures.  On Saturday, the boys team traveled to Cherokee High School and picked up the win.  Kaleb Meredith poured in 26 points while Charlie Vargo chipped in 17.

The boys team next plays vs. Unicoi County on Tuesday, November 20th, at 4:00 p.m., at Crockett.  The girls team will be playing in the Bahamas later in the week.

Come out and support your high school basketball teams!

The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

UH opens in style, flattens Washburn
Douglas Fritz • Updated Nov 16, 2018 at 10:14 PM

A sizzling start was followed by a strong second quarter.

Yes, it was a good opening act for University High's 2018-19 basketball season.

The Buccaneers rolled past Washburn, invoking the mercy rule in a 67-33 whipping Friday night at Brooks Gym.

"You always want to get that first one, and get it out of the way," said Bucs' head coach Justin Penley. "I was really happy with the way our kids came out and competed, especially early on."

In the girls game, University High held off Washburn in overtime, winning 48-43.


Kaleb Meredith did damage everywhere. He dropped an 18-spot in the points category, knocked down a pair of trey balls, grabbed four o-boards and three d-boards for 11 total rebounds, and even added an assist, steal and a block.

Meredith was part of the mix that allowed UH to build a 22-7 lead after one quarter.

Marshall Fleenor — with 13 points, six rebounds and a pair of 3-pointers — was part of a night where the Bucs seemed to be having fun.

"We want our kids to enjoy their time in high school," said Penley. "A lot of times that comes from winning, so we've got to put the work in every day when we practice so we can have fun in the games."

Jake Hubbard finished with nine points and six rebounds while Charlie Vargo totaled nine points and four rebounds.

UH led 41-15 at halftime and added 10 more points to its lead by the end of the third quarter.


UH held a 12-point fourth-quarter lead, but it didn't last.

Getting nice efforts from Sarah Bailey (20 points) and Tori Coffman (15), Washburn got a late bucket to tie and UH missed a chance to get off a last-second shot in regulation.

Courtney Henley and Calli Newberry each hit a pair of free throws in overtime, and Delaney Trosin added her only bucket of the game. UH outscored Washburn 6-1 in the extra period.

Henley led UH with 15 points. Sarah Fisher hit a trio of treys and finished with 13 points.


High School Boys Basketball Team Ready to Hit the Court
Our High School Mens' Basketball Team is ready to hit the court!  The first game will be this Friday, November 16th!  The following article was printed in the Johnson City Press:

Cloudland favored in Watauga Valley Conference
Jeff Birchfield; Douglas Fritz • Nov 10, 2018 at 4:08 PM

Coaches' picks

1. Cloudland

2. University High

3. North Greene

4. Hampton

5. Sullivan North

6. Unaka

There's firepower on the mountain according to the Watauga Valley Conference basketball coaches.

Cloudland is the preseason favorite after returning a number of high scorers including Robert Leeper and Josh Blair, its top two from a year ago. They are two of nine seniors on probably the deepest team, regardless of classification, in Northeast Tennessee.

Other seniors include Jordan Coffey, Josh Stevens, KJ Arnold, Malachi Benfield, Thomas Hicks, Dillon Johnson and Israel Boone. But, like the information, wait there's more — the junior class includes Conner Birchfield, Logan Barnett, Hunter Shell and Hayden Shell. Throw in a couple of talented sophomores, Elijah Blair and Bentley Gilbert, and the biggest challenge for coach Gary Harrison is getting everyone playing time.

"There's going to be some competition. I don't know when I will settle on a starting five," Harrison said. "We have a lot of tools, a lot of people who can score. We have all the pieces. We just have to mesh together and sacrifice for each other. If we do that, the sky is the limit for us."


The Bucs are loaded with their own offensive firepower, boasting a number of players capable of scoring. Like Cloudland, the Bucs were picked ahead of a North Greene team that made the state tournament last season.

A starting five likely consists of Marshall Fleenor (5-9, Jr.) at the point with Colin Daniel (6-0, Sr.) and Kaleb Meredith (6-0, So.) at the wings. Charlie Vargo (6-1, Sr.), who can play both inside or on the perimeter, and Jake Hubbard (6-1, Sr.) are at the posts. Mason Broome (6-1, Jr.) could also start depending on matchups.

Coach Justin Penley pointed out the Bucs are giving up a little size in the post, but are big at the guards with Vargo and Meredith. He added that Hubbard, whom he calls "country strong," will contend underneath, no matter the size of the opponent. He also sees some depth.

"Jake may give up some size, but he's got a knack at the five to be able to create space and get his shot away," Penley said. "Overall, I feel like we're going to be deep with some kids coming off the bench in pivotal roles. I like our team, like our kids and I'm excited to get going."


 HS Boys Basketball

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