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University High wins overtime thriller over North Greene

Jeff Birchfield • Jan 23, 2020 at 10:09 PM

Kaleb Meredith led University High to the verge of beating North Greene in a Watauga Valley basketball showdown Thursday night at Brooks Gym. His teammates took care of the rest in an electrifying finish.

With Meredith, who scored a game-high 28 points, fouling out of the game with 3:21 left in overtime and his team down by a point, the Bucs didn’t fold. Instead, they came together, coming up with three big steals on the defensive end to take a 75-72 victory.

Mason Broome scored on a go-ahead layup off an assist by Marshall Fleenor with 25 seconds left. Hayden Charles then came up with a steal and passed the ball to Fleenor, who sank a pair of free throws for the final score.

North Greene’s Turner Bailey missed a game-tying 3-point shot at the buzzer.

“Losing Kaleb was a big blow for us, but when we have guys who can step up like that, that’s a game-changer for us,” said Fleenor, who scored 20 points. “The pressure was on with those final free throws, but all glory to God. I was able to knock them down.”

It made an interesting league race even more of a toss-up as University High improved to 10-8 overall and 4-2 in conference play. North Greene fell to 14-7, 4-2.

University High sprinted out to an early 14-2 lead as Zach Rice hit a pair of 3-point attempts and Meredith made three shots. They kept pouring it on, leading 30-13 at the end of one quarter and going up by 20 points before North Greene rallied with 11 straight points at the end of the half and early in the third quarter to cut the lead to 43-34.

The Huskies got it down to seven at 45-38 before Meredith scored on the next two UH possessions to push the lead back to a dozen. Still determined, North Greene kept charging back. The Huskies made it a 24-point turnaround, taking a 60-56 lead in the fourth quarter before the teams battled to the end of regulation.

Meredith tied the game at 66-all with a 3-pointer from the left corner with 17 seconds left. North Greene’s Shane Cooter missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the end of regulation.

University High coach Herman Rice knew North Greene still had the momentum going into overtime. After Meredith fouled out, Fleenor came up to the coach in a leadership role.

“This group has been there before in tough games,” Coach Rice said. “That last timeout, they sat on the bench and they said, ‘We got this coach.’ I was giving instructions, but they said, ‘We’ve worked too hard to lose this game.’ Fleenor, who is one of the best players in our conference, said, ‘Kaleb’s out and it’s time for me to step up. Put the ball in my hands.’ The shot he hit towards the end, a lot of NBA players aren’t going to make that shot.”

Broome finished with 12 points and Zach Rice scored eight for the Bucs.

Bailey led North Greene with 20 points. Chance Campbell scored 10 and Kendal Loftis added nine.

GIRLS

North Greene 54, University High 24

The conference-leading Lady Huskies (17-5, 6-0) raced out to a 25-4 halftime lead against the Lady Bucs (0-21, 0-6), who put forth a more competitive second-half effort.

Ryleigh Owen knocked down a trio of 3-point shots to finish as part of her game-high 11 points. Katy Stancil added six more points for University High.

North Greene featured a balanced attack with Brooklyn Anderson scoring 10 points, followed by Shelby Davenport with nine. Hailee English and Breezy Savage each scored eight.

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