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University High boys edge North in OT; Lady Bucs break into win column

Tanner Cook • Feb 8, 2020 at 2:49 AM

KINGSPORT — The University High boys basketball team ruined Sullivan North’s Senior Night on Friday night at J. Richard Carroll Gymnasium by rallying from a 15-point second-half deficit and winning 68-61 in overtime.

The Bucs (13-10, 6-4) outscored their Watauga Valley Conference opponent 14-7 in the extra period, but that wouldn’t have happened if not for their strong defense in the fourth.

Three UH players finished in double figures. Marshall Fleenor led the way with 15 points, and Kaleb Meredith and Matthew Carter each produced 14. Meredith topped his team in rebounds with nine.

Isaiah Pruitt had a game-high 20 points for Sullivan North (15-12, 4-6) and Christian Hill coupled his 18 with eight boards.

“The first quarter really set the tone of the game,” University High coach Herman Rice said. “North came out and had a great game plan. They played hard and they’re well coached. We spent most of the halftime talking about not having intensity on defense.

“We challenged our seniors and told them this was their last time over here. They didn’t want this to be the way they went out. When we went back to man defense in the second half and our pressure tripled, that’s when we got back in the game.”

North scored the opening bucket of the fourth at 7:35 but did not score again until 2:48 remained in the game. During that time frame, UH blew by North with a 13-0 run.

“We have one of the toughest schedules in Class A this season,” Rice noted. “We’ve played several ranked teams in Tennessee, teams ranked in Virginia, the No. 2-ranked team in the country (Oak Hill). We did that to prepare our kids for these kinds of games and I think it paid off a little bit tonight.”

LADY BUCS BREAK THROUGH

The first Lady Bucs’ win of the season — a 44-41 decision over the Lady Golden Raiders — came in dramatic fashion.

University High (1-25, 1-9) trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half, but behind three 3-pointers by Ryleigh Owen, the Lady Bucs were able to get off the schneid.

“This is a huge weight off of our shoulders,” said first-year UH coach Marty Story. “We don’t have the most experienced team, but we’re starting to learn how to do things correctly and be patient with the ball. We’re limiting our turnovers and giving ourselves a chance.”

Perhaps the game turned when North’s Lily Crawford received two technical fouls within a minute of each other, part of a run that put the Bucs behind by just two, 36-34, with 4:07 to go.

Owen hit a wide-open perimeter shot with 3:41 left to give UH its first lead of the game, 37-36.

After the Lady Raiders tied the game at 40 with three minutes left, Mauri Johnson’s pair of free throws with 1:21 left put the Lady Bucs up for good.

Owen led UH with 15 points and Delaney Trosin had 14. Sahara Bates finished with 13 points to lead North (6-18, 1-9).

“We’ve (hardly) been able to put two halves together all season,” Story said. “This was one of the first times all season that we were able to do that. It was a situation in which we learned from and for a team that hadn’t won a game to overcome a double-digit deficit and win is absolutely huge.”

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