By Kyle Lovern
BECKLEY - The Tug Valley Panthers lost in the Class A, Region 3, Section 1 final to arch rival Greater Beckley Christian 49-37 on Saturday afternoon at the historic Raleigh County Armory.
The two teams had split their regular season games each winning on their own home courts. GBC had received the No. 1 seed this season, thus they were able to host the sectional championship game.
The Panthers were extremely cold from behind the 3-point line only hitting 2-of-22 from behind the arc.
Even after trailing by 20 points late in the game, Tug Valley fought back to cut the lead to just 6 points in the final quarter. They just couldn’t get over the hump after falling behind on the road.
GBC head coach Dan Burd said he knew the game would be a battle.
“This was one of those defensive battles. We were fortunate to come our on top. We made some changes defensively after watching film of Tug Valley. It’s not characteristic of us to play zone. We felt it gave us the best chance to win. Even when we got out to a sizable lead I knew coach Thompson would rally his kids and make a run. I was hoping we could weather the storm and to our kids credit we did,” Burd said.
Tug Valley had not lost a post-season basketball since 2011 when they lost to Poca when they were still playing in Class AA. The Panthers are the defending Class A state champs and in 2012 won the Class A championship. Their tournament winning streak was 13 heading into Saturday’s contest against GBC.
“We looked like we all worked for the brick factory,” Panther head coach Garland “Rabbit” Thompson said jokingly. “It wasn’t just one or two that shot bad, it was the whole team.”
“We cut it down there to 5 or 6, but we couldn’t get over the hump,” Thompson added. “Playing at 1 p.m. and having to drive over two hours may have contributed to our play. But, that’s what we voted on and you can’t use that as an excuse.”
The Panthers have been a thorn in the side of the Crusaders for the last couple of seasons, losing the sectional to TVHS last year at Naugatuck. They lost three times to the Panthers last season.
GBC senior captain Javonne Staunton-Bailey showed leadership for the Crusaders charge to help GBC hold on for the win.
“I just told them, ‘It’s a game of runs,’” he told the Register Herald. “I grabbed Elisha (Kidd), and I told them that’s what big games are all about. I said, ‘In big games, it’s all about runs.’ I’m glad we pulled it out.”
Staunton-Bailey was limited to only nine points, as were Isaiah Francis and Brent Daniels. Elisha Kidd led the way with 18 points.
As he has done so many times this season, senior Thomas Baisden led Tug Valley with 16 points. Calvin Blankenship and Hayden Sturgell each scored six for the Panthers.
Greater Beckley will host Meadow Bridge on Wednesday in the co-finals of the regional.
Tug Valley will travel to Smithers, W.Va. to take on Section 2 champion Valley of Fayette at 7 p.m. Wednesday
Score by quarters:
TVHS (17-6) -11 6 4 16 - 37
GBC (15-5) - 13 13 14 9 - 49
Tug Valley (37) - Kyle Newsome 1 0-0 3, Aaron Copley 1 0-0 2, Hayden Sturgell 2 1-3 6, Shane Marcum 2 0-0 4, Austin Baisden 0 0-2 0, Calvin Blankenship 1 4-6 6, Thomas Baisden 7 2-2 16. Totals: 14 7-13 37.
Greater Beckley (49) - Javonne Staunton-Bailey 2 4-6 9, Elisha Kidd 4 8-10 18, Isaiah Francis 3 3-4 9, Adam Cook 0 0-4 0, Brent Daniels 4 0-0 9, Joseph Cornett 1 0-0 2, Anthony Helton 1 0-0 2. Totals: 15 15-24 49.
3-point goals — TV: 2 (Newsome, Sturgell); GBC: 4 (Kidd 2, Staunton-Bailey, Daniels.)
(Editor’s Note: Thanks to the Register