Hometown heroes: Former North Gaston standout retires as college golf coach and college football and basketball notes

By Richard Walker

Larry Penley

Former North Gaston High golf standout Larry Penley announced last week that he will retire as Clemson University golf coach at the end of the ongoing 2021 spring season.

Penley has been the head coach of the Tigers since the 1983-84 academic year, with this year marking his 38th leading the program to make him the longest tenured Clemson head coach in any sport.

“I can’t thank Clemson University enough for allowing me to live a dream,” Penley said in a Clemson news release. “Being part of the Clemson Golf program as a player, assistant coach and head coach since 1977 has been special to say the least. Thanks also to all of our past student-athletes and their families. It has been an honor to serve as their coach. I am proud of the way they have represented Clemson in competition and off the course when they were student-athletes and in their careers.”

Said Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich in a school news release: “I know I speak for my predecessors Terry Don Phillips and Bobby Robinson in wishing he and his wife Heidi a wonderful retirement. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Larry for the past eight years and appreciate his service to Clemson Athletics and countless student-athletes. His record on and off the course speaks for itself. We all look forward to celebrating Larry this season.”

Penley, a 1977 North Gaston High graduate, has taken Clemson to the NCAA tournament in each of his 36 seasons as head coach, including guiding the Tigers to the 2003 NCAA title. Penley directed Clemson to 79 tournament wins – second in ACC history – which includes nine ACC tournaments and a record seven NCAA regional titles.

An All-ACC golfer at Clemson between 1977-81, Penley was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2004. He’s also been inducted into the Gaston County Sports Hall of Fame (2009) and South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame (2009).

The national collegiate coach of the year in 2003, Penley has been ACC coach of the year seven times and NCAA district coach of the year seven times.

College football
Former East Lincoln and Lincolnton High multi-sport standout Sage Surratt has been invited to play in the prestigious Reese’s Senior Bowl on Jan. 30 at 12:30 p.m., in Mobile, Ala.

Sage Surratt, an All-ACC receiver at Wake Forest in 2019, opted out of the 2020 season in order to prepare for the NFL Draft. He caught 107 passes for 1,582 yards and 15 touchdowns in two seasons for the Deacons.

That came after a high school career at East Lincoln and Lincolnton in which Sage Surratt was named N.C. High School Athletic Association male athlete of the year for 2016-17 and was voted Associated Press’ N.C. player of the year for football and basketball. He set state receiving records for career receptions (366), receiving yards (5,926) and receiving touchdowns (80) and finished second in state history in basketball scoring (2,951 points).

Sage Surratt will be joined in the game by his older brother Chazz Surratt, a linebacker at the University of North Carolina who has committed to play in the game last month.

Chazz Surratt was Parade Magazine’s national football player of the year in 2015 for East Lincoln after he set N.C. high school records for career total offensive yardage (16,593) and touchdown responsibility (229). At North Carolina, Chazz Surratt played quarterback for three years before switching to linebacker the last two seasons and making All-ACC both years.

College basketball
Former Hunter Huss and Gaston Day standout Quan McCluney is averaging 5.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 12 games for Queens (9-3, 8-2), who visit South Atlantic Conference rival Newberry on Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the Royals’ next game. McCluney last Saturday had his first career double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds in a 91-67 victory over Catawba.

Former Piedmont Community Charter and Kings Mountain standout Adrian Delph continues to lead Appalachian State in scoring with a 13.1 average in 15 starts. Delph also averages 3.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Mountaineers (10-5, 4-2), who host Sun Belt Conference rival Georgia State Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. in their next two games. Delph scored a career-high 28 points in his last game, an 83-72 win on Saturday over South Alabama.

Also at Appalachian State, former East Gaston and Gaston Day standout James Lewis is averaging 8.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 15 games (11 starts).