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Coach: Herman Rice
Assistant Coach: Johnny Bolton
University High boys and girls basketball preview
By NN Assistant on November 29, 2017 Featured, Local Sports
Photo by Dave Ongie
Rice hopes to help Lady Bucs create a winning culture
By Dave Ongie
Herman Rice was able to build a winning program at the middle school level. Now he's hoping to translate that winning culture to the high school level.
Rice is beginning his first season at the helm of University High's varsity girls basketball team after engineering a dramatic turnaround at the middle-school level.
"The middle school program, when we took it over three years ago, it hadn't been very successful," Rice said. "We went undefeated in the conference last year. It took three years, but we built that program up. We hope we can do the same thing here."
When Rice looks at the players on his team this season, he sees a lot of the key ingredients for success.
"They are great kids," he said. "They want to win. They want to get better. We'll give them everything we've got to get them there."
The Lady Bucs will be young this season. Abby Benton, a 5-9 forward, and Sarah Robinson, a 5-6 guard, are the only seniors on the roster. Benton will be counted on to provide leadership and production while Robinson works on making the transition from soccer to basketball. Robinson is a standout on the soccer pitch, but hasn't played basketball since middle school.
Gracie Crabtree, Callie Newberry, Bekah Rice and Sarah Fisher – all juniors – are expected to join Benton in the starting lineup. Rice said his lineup will be guard-heavy, and he's hoping to use pressure defense to generate easy offense.
"We're going to have to be a really strong defensive team," he said. "We're not going to be able to pound it inside a lot. Abby does a great job, but our other posts are really young."
Sams, Stevens lead Warriors over Bucs
Jeff Birchfield • Updated Nov 27, 2017 at 11:34 PM
ELIZABETHTON — Brayden Sams put Happy Valley in position to win and Noah Stevens finished it off on Monday night at Bayless Gym.
Sams scored Happy Valley's first 11 points of the final period and Stevens scored the last 11 to lead the Warriors to a 74-65 boys' basketball win over University High at Bayless Gym.
Happy Valley won 58-20 in an earlier girls' contest.
Sams and Stevens each ended with 22 points overall as the Warriors rallied from a 15-point, first-half deficit for the victory.
"The first half, we were both cold," Sams said. "The second half, we started hitting our layups and then we moved to the outside shots. We both had the 22 at the end of the night, but it was a good team effort. Luke Roberts came off the bench and gave us some good minutes. Bryce (Carter) played good defense with his hands straight up and not fouling. It was just a good team win."
Joseph Harless scored a game-high 23 points and Marshall Fleenor added 15 for the Bucs, who also saw Caleb Meredith hit double figures with a dozen points.
"I thought our effort was outstanding and our kids played exceptionally hard," University High coach Justin Penley said. "Some nights the ball just doesn't go in the bucket. That's what happened to us late. We had some good looks at it, but give Happy Valley a lot of credit. They made a lot of big shots every time we made a run at them. But if we play like that night in and night out, we will win some games."
Happy Valley coach Chuck Babb was glad how his team had a balanced effort of 10 points by Jake Surcey, nine from Carter and eight from Kevin Whitaker. He especially liked the efforts of Sams and Stevens in the deciding moments.
"Noah got upset early in the game and went in a shell a little bit," Babb said. "I had to get on him and tell him to get tough. And he did. He played outstanding on defense with seven steals, and he and Brayden made some big shots down the stretch. Our shot selection wasn't what we needed in the first half and we got in a big hole. But, we made some adjustments at halftime, and our kids didn't quit when we got down. That's a credit to them, how they kept battling."
Happy Valley 58, University High 20
The Lady Warriors led just 12-10 at the end of one quarter, but outscored the Lady Bucs 40-6 over the next two quarters to romp to the big win.
"We missed a lot of easy shots in the first quarter, but then we got rolling," Happy Valley coach Larry Abel Jr. said. "This team, our offense comes from our defense, and it did again tonight."
Adrienne Henegar led the way with 15 points, followed by Kate Roberts with 10 points. Tiana Long added seven, including a go-ahead basket at the buzzer at the end of the first quarter.
Sarah Fisher had 12 points, nine of them coming behind the 3-point line to lead University High.
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.