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.
University High 45, Sullivan North 20
The Lady Bucs jumped out to a 12-0 early lead in the first quarter and it was all University High on Thursday night in a dominant conference win.
The Lady Golden Raiders did not get on the board until 42.6 seconds left in the first quarter as the UH defense was smothering and North was hoisting up bad shots.
Calli Newberry led the Lady Bucs with 13 points while Sarah Fisher coupled 12 points with five steals and Gracie Crabtree netted 11. Courtney Hensley finished with 11 rebounds.
The Lady Raiders were led by Hannah Mullins with 11 and hit four of North’s five field goals on the night.
University High improves to 14-13 overall and 2-8 in the league while North drops to 9-13 and 0-10 in the conference. The official game time was one hour and 10 minutes.