NAUGATUCK – The Tug Valley Panthers take a big 25 point lead in the first half and advance through Midland Trail to the state tournament. Tug Valley became the Regional co-final champions by defeating the Patriots 77-54 on Wednesday night.
The Panthers activated a stun spell against the Midland Trail Patriots that allowed a landslide of first half points produced by Tug Valley. A full court press, in the first minutes of the game set the Patriots on their heels. The Panthers scraped up every loose ball and bad pass and made Midland Trail pay for their mistakes.
Tug Valley started the game on a 13-0 run over the Patriots thanks to big 3-pointers by Calvin Blankenship and Tyler May. The Patriots made numerous fundamental errors due to the press, one glance down at the ball while dribbling, would give the Panthers a chance to surround and trap. Bad passes fueled the fire and the Panthers ended the first period ahead 26-10.
Colby Savage started off the second period, for the Panthers, with a bang. Savage scored the first two points of the second on a dish from Corbin Oliver, he then scored on the Panthers next trip down the floor on a beautiful fade away jumper from 6-ft. out. Garret Brown created some excitement when he swatted a Midland Trail shot off the wall. The Patriots were missing foul shots left and right. The Patriots coach was steaming.
Tug Valley won the second period by a score of 46-21. The Panthers had complete control of the game; there has not been a team in the sectionals that the Panthers have not beaten by more than 20 points.
The Patriots had possession of the ball to start the second half. Matt Skaggs took over for Midland Trail and scored five quick points before the Panthers took back control. Tug valley worked their score up to 54 points by the 4:45 mark, Midland Trails coach, Curtis Miller was called for a technical after expressing his dissatisfaction for the officials. Jeremy Dillon went 1 for 2 from the foul line to put the Panthers score at 55.
Tug valley continued to rain down points after the technical by going on a 9-2 run. The Patriots were still struggling with the Panthers press. With just over a minute to play in the third period the Patriots started to show signs of life by finishing the quarter on a 7-0 run over the Panthers.
By the fourth minute of the fourth period the Panthers bench players checked in, the score was 70-42. Phillip Lucas ignited the crowd in the last four minutes by scoring three points before the time ran out. The Panthers watched the clock tick away and now the road to the state championship will begin.
Tug Valley has paired with (19-4) No. 6 Tucker County in the first game to be played on Thursday March 17th at 9:30 a.m. The game will be played at the Charleston Civic Center. More on this game will be available in future issues of this publication.
Scores by quarters:
Tug: 26 20 20 11 – 77
MT: 10 11 14 19 – 54
Tug: Jeremy Dillon – 14, Johnathan Blankenship -6, Chandler Runyon – 9, Tyler May -16, Brady Spaulding – 2, Corbin Oliver – 4, Garrett Brown -2, Calvin Blankenship -9, Phillip Lucas -3, Colby Savage -10, Brett Ooten -2.
MT: Noah Pack -2, Steve Blume -10, Jared Stover -8, Noah Minor – 11, Mike Harper -8, Matt Skaggs -15.
(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)