University claims first-ever Pioneer Conference title

The University boys basketball team won its first-ever Pioneer Conference championship on Saturday. The Trailblazers beat Greenwood Christian 64-46. Class 1A No. 1 University is now 17-1. (Photo courtesy Alex Carson)

For the first time, the University boys basketball team are Pioneer Conference champions. The Trailblazers won the PAAC title with a dominating 64-46 win over Greenwood Christian.
The top-ranked team in Class 1A improved to 17-1 overall and were led by David Howard with 19 points.  Josh Watson had a superb defensive game and five rebounds and 12 points.  Ethan Sickels added 12 and Foster Flamion nine.  Zack Hodgin had just two points, but dished out nine assists and grabbed six rebounds.  Sam Mervis came off the bench for six points and five assists.
University coach Brandon Lafferman was happy after the game. “We are excited to win our first conference championship” the fifth year coach said.  “Our defense was at an all-time best level against a Greenwood Christian team that does a good job moving the ball.  Josh Watson had his best defensive game, covering the three point line and blocking three shots.  It was good to have Sam Mervis back.  He gave us some good minutes and made some big plays.”
Watson’s defense sparked a 13-0 University run that spanned the first and second quarters.  Trailing 10-8, Watson deflected a Cougar three point attempt, then raced down the floor to take a pass from Mervis for a lay-in that tied the game.  Watson got a hand on another Greenwood Christian three point attempt on the next possession.  Hodgin found David Howard for a three pointer that put University ahead for good at 13-10.  Flamion followed with a rebound basket and Howard drilled another three pointer off a Hodgin assist for a 18-10 lead after the first period.
Watson gave University their first double digit lead at 21-10 early in the second.  After the Cougars made two foul shots, Sickels made a pair of corner three pointers off feeds from Hodgin to push the lead to 27-12.  Greenwood Christian cut the lead to 30-21 with 2:50 remaining, but a Watson free throw and driving basket by Mervis at the buzzer gave University a 33-21 halftime lead and the Blazers led by double figures the rest of the game.
An 8-0 University run after Greenwood Christian scored the first two points of the third quarter gave the Blazers a commanding 41-23 lead.  The lead reached 25 points midway through the fourth quarter, before the Cougars outscored University 12-5 down the stretch.
University returns to The U Center Tuesday night to host the Heritage Christian Eagles.

The University boys basketball team won its first-ever Pioneer Conference championship on Saturday. The Trailblazers beat Greenwood Christian 64-46. Class 1A No. 1 University is now 17-1. (Photo courtesy Alex Carson)

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