The Bucs, the District 1-A winner, trailed by three after a quarter, but posted a 82-54 win to advance to the semifinal round on Tuesday.
University High (19-10) will take a nine-game winning streak to Walters State when the Bucs take on Jellico, which defeated North Greene 75-72 on Saturday. This marks the third straight regional semifinal appearance for UH. The other semifinal matchups pits Hampton against Cosby.
“They decided to wake up and play,” University High head coach Herman Rice said about the team’s play after the first quarter. “I was concerned going into the game as the last two practices haven’t been very good,”
Washburn proved it was ready and held a 17-14 lead after the opening eight minutes. However, the Bucs chipped away and eventually pulled away.
Kaleb Meredith stole a pass near half court and laid in the game-tying bucket (26-26) with 3:30 to go in the opening half. Meredith rose above the Pirates to score and put the Bucs in front the next time down the court. He then sank a 3-pointer from the corner to make it a 31-26 advantage with 2:40 to go till halftime.
“I think that catapulted us into a good second half and pulling away, but that’s been Kaleb (Meredith) all year. He got some open looks and knocked them down,” Rice said about the late second-quarter run.
The Bucs built a 38-28 advantage to take the the halftime break thanks to 14 straight points. The second half was all University High as the Bucs sailed away from Washburn.
Meredith paced all scorers with 27 points to go along with six steals that led to a dozen points. Marshall Fleenor knocked down four 3- pointers en route to 18 points as 11 different University High players scratched the scoring column.
UH capitalized on 24 Pirate turnovers that led to 25 points on the other end.
“I’m happy to win,” Rice said. “I’m not happy with the effort and some of the things we gave up on defense. Too many easy points, but at this time of the year, it is win and advance.”
Skyler Hurst led Washburn with 23 points and had 20 of the team’s 37 points in the final three quarters. Cody Coffey and Rance Shipe finished with nine and eight, respectively.
Washburn ends the season at 6-24 as the Pirates reached the Region 1-A tournament fo the first time since 2013.