NAUGATUCK – The road to the state tournament runs through Naugatuck and Tug Valley High School. The Panthers are on their way to Charleston.
The No. 1 ranked Panthers were clicking on all cylinders Tuesday night as they jumped out to a 57-10 halftime lead and went on to beat the Man Hillbillies 94-36.
Tug Valley held Man to only two points in the second quarter and that was on two free throws.
The Panthers led 7-0 early on and Man cut it to 7-5. Corey Dillon then completed a 3-point play the old-fashioned way and Tug Valley was off to the races.
Tug Valley led 29-8 after one quarter and used a balanced scoring attack in the first half to take a commanding lead against the visiting and young Hillbillies.
Austin Brewer had 10, Mikey Newsome 11, Thomas Baisden 11, Corey Dillon nine and Hayden Sturgell seven in the first half.
“Austin Brewer got us going early. He is the straw that stirs the drink,” Tug Valley coach Garland “Rabbit” Thompson said. “Mikey had his usual good offensive game. It was a solid effort by the whole team.”
The Panther players were all smiles in the dressing room after the game. They joked with their head coach about getting taken out of the game. They wanted to play more minutes, but Thompson assured them that their time will come as the team progresses through the tournament.
Tug Valley led 63-14 with 5:32 left in the third quarter and at the 4:07 mark Thompson put in five new players. Those Panthers didn’t let up and continued the offensive onslaught.
The Panthers led 70-17 after a 3-pointer by Kyle Newsome. They led 78-26 by the end of the third quarter.
Thompson brought in more JV players and 12 different Panthers got into the scoring column by the end of the game.
Brewer ended the game with 16, Mikey Newsome had 15, Thomas Baisden 11, Sturgell 11, Dillon nine, Shane Marcum and Aaron Copley six each and Aaron Muncy chipped in five.
Sean Hager had four, Kyle Newsome three and Dylan Dotson scored a basket off the bench.
Tug Valley made 17-19 at the free throw line for 89 percent.
The Panthers are now 20-3 and will play host to Greater Beckley Christian on Friday night for the Region 3, Section 1, Sectional championship. GBC defeated Sherman 76-56 in their semi-final game played at Beckley. (More on this game in Thursday’s edition of the Williamson Daily News.)
The Panthers, who won the Class AA state title last March in Charleston, are a heavy favorite to return to the Civic Center and compete for the Class A championship this March.
Man, coached by longtime mentor Harvey Arms, finished the season at 7-16. They had defeated Montcalm on Saturday night in the play-in game to advance in the sectional.
John Keffer led Man with 11 points, while Kenny Adkins scored 10 and Cayce Mullins chipped in six.
The Billies were 9-16 at the foul line for 56 percent.
Score by quarters:
MHS …. 8 2 16 10 - 36
TVHS …29 28 21 1 – 94
Man – J. Keffer 11, K. Adkins 10, J. Adkins 3, C. Mullins 6, G. Harvey 2, M. Rowe 4.
Tug Valley – A. Brewer 16, M. Newsome 15, T. Baisden 11, A. Muncy 5, H. Sturgell 11, C. Dillon 9, A. Baisden 4, A. Copley 6, S. Marcum 6, K. Newsome 3, D. Dotson 2, S. Hager 4.