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University High blows by Unaka, reaches Region 1-A finals

Tanner Cook • Updated Feb 27, 2019 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.

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