Blount Press Row

Easton’s Epic Season

Oak Ridge won the game this time, but wow!

Maryville senior Easton Upchurch delivered one of the most efficient feats of scoring you’re ever going to see on the high school level last season. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

We still love the answer his older brother, Tristan Upchurch, gave two years ago.

Asked if he had a favorite among the many moves his sophomore kid brother, Easton, had uncorked that season, TrIstan responded: “I don’t know. There’s been some stuff.”

Easton Upchurch took the district by storm that sophomore season, coming away with player of the year honors.

He did it again this spring as a senior, so there really wasn’t much to consider in naming Upchurch our inaugural Barley’s/Blount Press Row Player of the Year for boys basketball.

The Christian Brothers signee can flat out score.

And that’s the thing.

Everyone knew that entering the 2016-17 season. Maryville coach Mark Eldridge had assembled a strong club. All-county selection Joe Anderson proved a revelation for those who hadn’t seen the talented freshman guard at the middle school level. Fellow all-county selections T.D. Blackmon and Spencer Lowe made Maryville rock solid in front court.

The points would come, but there was no question Upchurch would have to provide a great many of them.

And that’s just what he did.

With 12 field goal attempts an outing, Upchurch finished the leading scorer in 23 of Maryville’s 30 games. Photo by Wallace Bowden

He pumped in 29 in the opener. Two days later he went for 22. Then he blew up Halls for 37.

The regular season District 4AAA champions, the Rebels finished 24-6 in a season that closed in an epic battle at Oak Ridge in the region semifinals. More on that in just a second.

Upchurch finished Maryville’s leading scorer in 23 of its 30 games. Three times he was the next man up behind the leader. Behind the barrage, the Rebels ran off a school-record 18-game winning streak.

For the season, the 6-foot-1 Upchurch posted averages of 20.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, adding two assists and two steals a night in earning All-State selection. A fairly young team gelled around him.

“What makes players good is how efficient they are,” Eldridge said earlier this season. “We talk all the time about how efficient he is.

“Easton shoots it 12, 13 times a game, and he’s (scoring) in the 20s! He shoots it so well it allows guys like T.D. to attack the basket.”

Maryville coach Mark Eldridge instructs the Rebels during a game last season.

When defenses collapsed to protect the basket, the price paid was often leaving Upchurch unattended at the perimeter.

“I just try not to do too much,” he said. “I just try to be in control. That’s the real big thing.”

Then came the night the Rebel human torch bid farewell. He did not go quietly.

The Wildcats were surely spoiling for a fight after the Rebels knocked off then No. 1-ranked Oak Ridge in the 2015-16 region championship game. The stakes were higher this time, with only the winner advancing.

As a full-house, raucous crowd looked on this spring, Upchurch let fly with a game-high 25 points. He hit seven 3s, including a bomb to tie the game at 32-all at the third-quarter horn. Twice in the fourth quarter he put the Rebels back out front with a 3.

Oak Ridge prevailed, 46-43, on free throws late, but it’s a good bet the Wildcats are glad Upchurch is in college now. Whew!

Barley’s/Blount Press Row
All-Blount County Boys Basketball Team
First Team

Easton Upchurch
Maryville, Senior
Barley's/BPR Player of the Year
Calvin Keeble
Heritage, Senior
Joe Anderson
Maryville, Freshman
T.D. Blackmon
Maryville, Senior
Dante Harris
Alcoa, Freshman

Second Team

Austin Brooks
William Blount, Senior
Spencer Lowe
Maryville, Senior
Isaiah Hannah
William Blount, Senior
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Brandon Davis
Heritage, Senior
Jonathan Webb
Alcoa, Senior

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