NAUGATUCK – Good shooting and a last second, buzzer beating, 3-pointer from Tyler May make the Tug Valley Panthers advance to a record of 8-0 after beating Saint Joseph Central at home on Friday night with a final score of 61-58.
The score was tied at 58 with 18 seconds remaining as Calvin Blankenship stood at the top of the key letting the play develop. Blankenship passed the ball to Jeremy Dillon who started to back up the defense as he pushed closer and closer to the goal. May rushed around to the left corner and caught the pass from Dillon. May was wide open and took the shot from behind the 3-point line. The ball hit the back of the rim and fell in. The gymnasium erupted in celebration.
The Saint Joseph Central Fighting Irish had definitely made the trip to Naugatuck to play some ball. The game was back and forth as both teams refused to give up. The Fighting Irish won both the first and second periods. Saint Joseph entered the locker room at halftime with a six point lead over the Hometown Panthers. The score at the half was 37-31.
Tug Valley resumed play in the second half with more intensity and a thirst for victory. The Panthers third period effort gave them back the lead as they outscored the Fighting Irish 17-8. The Final period was a nail bitter to say the least. Both teams netted 13 points in the fourth but the Panthers walked away with a win due to May’s last second 3-pointer with only a few seconds remaining.
The Panthers only had two players score double digit points, May and Dillon, but there were seven players who contributed to the Panthers score. May scored 11 points in the third period to help Tug Valley take back control of the game. Garrett Brown also hit a big time 3-pointer in the third that boosted the Panthers into beast mode. Colby Savage came in late in the game and provided some great minutes on defense.
The Blankenship brothers, Calvin and Johnathan, did what they do best and kept the game tempo as fast paced as possible. Calvin Blankenship netted nine points and had five assists during the night.
Head coach Ed May said following the game, “We knew it was going be a tough ball game, we knew they could play. They beat Teays Valley, they went to Notre Dame and played them a three point game, and we beat Notre Dame by three points. So we knew this was going to be a tough game to win.”
The Panthers are hitting the mid-season stride and still have some issues to work on says coach May. “We have got to start taking better care of the ball, we have to take better shots. We built our lead up to seven or eight and then we made some mistakes that let them get right back in it. We can definitely be more disciplined when the games get close and tough. We missed some big free throws down the stretch. We need to get those things under control,” said May.
Despite the mid-season tinkering that will commence, coach May is thrilled with how his team is playing. “If you had told me before the season we would be 8-0 after beating Notre Dame and Saint Joseph, I would have said yes Sir, I will take that. We struggled in the first half but I thought we fought our tails off in the second. I am very proud of my team,” said May.
The Panthers are scheduled to play Gorge Washington on Saturday night in the Hatfield McCoy Shootout, those game details will be available in Tuesday’s paper.
The Panthers shot 56 percent from the 2-point range making 19 of 34 shots, they only shot 50 percent from the free throw line making 8 of 16. All together they shot 42 percent from the field after making 24 of 57 shots.
Scores by quarter:
TV: 19 12 17 13 – 61
SJ: 22 15 8 13 – 58
TV: Tyler May -20, Jeremy Dillon -10, Calvin Blankenship -9, Corbin Oliver -9, Garrett Brown -7, Chandler Runyon -5, Johnathan Blankenship -1.
SJ: DeAndre Murphy -21, Keith Clemons -15, Travis McNeil -13, John Dawson -8, John Morrison -2, Jake Stricter -2.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] or on twitter @sidplaster)