Tug Valley wins Class A state championship
CHARLESTON - The Tug Valley Panthers of Coach Garland “Rabbit” Thompson achieved the goal he set for his team last March by winning back-to-back state championships.
Tug Valley defeated Charleston Catholic 58-41 in the Class A final Saturday afternoon at the Charleston Civic Center. The Panthers won the Class AA title last season, but because of a drop in enrollment, dropped down to Single A this season.
Senior guards Mikey Newsome, Austin Brewer and Aaron Muncy, like they have for two seasons, led Tug Valley to the big victory over the feisty Irish of CCHS.
All three players were named to the all-tournament team.
Muncy came out red-hot. He scored the Panther’s first five points and ended up with 16 in the first half, including four 3-pointers. Usually known as the team’s defensive stopper, Muncy ended the game with a career high 21 points.
“I thought Aaron got us going early,” Thompson said after the game. “Then Austin was able to drive and penetrate and Mikey hit a couple of big shots.”
“Coach tells us it only takes one shot to get your confidence,” Muncy said. “I got a good bounce on the first one. I felt confident after that.”
“These three seniors gave a big-time effort. They communicate so well and have such good chemistry,” Thompson said.
“I’ve played with these guys since I was five years old,” Newsome said. “That makes it even more special.”
“I drive and dish, if I’ve got the shot, I take it - if not, I drop it off,” Brewer said. “That’s just what I do.”
“I’ve never seen three guards like that,” Irish coach Bill McClanahan said. “To Tug’s credit, the players that needed to step up did.”
“Congratulations to Tug Valley,” McClanahan added.
Like they have all season, Tug Valley got offense from its tenacious defense. The Panthers like to press and use in your face man-to-man defense to rattle opponents and force them into turnovers.
Tug Valley only led 19-18 after one quarter and 32-26 at the half.
The Panthers pressured Catholic’s Nick George and Garrett McCarty in the early minutes.
Tug Valley went on a little run and outscored the Irish 11-5 in the third quarter to get a little breathing room. They pulled away in the final quarter and built a commanding lead - much to the delight of the Tug Valley fans. The diehard Panther fans won the spirit award for having the best cheering section.
“There is no sweeter words than back-to-back,” Thompson added. “I thought the game would go down to the last possession.”
Tug Valley is the first public school to win the Class A crown since Williamson in 2001.
“It’s even more special being the 100th anniversary of the tournament,” Thompson added. He talked about some of the past teams from Mingo County that have won state championships.
Muncy, a 5-8 guard, not only had 21 points, but he pulled down seven rebounds and had a couple of steals. Brewer had 15 points and five assists. Newsome had 10 points and four assists. Junior forward Thomas Baisden had eight points and a game high 12 rebounds. Senior Corey Dillon added four points.
George ended the game with 13 points for CCHS, while McCarty added 10. Keiffer Hovorka scored nine and David Godwin seven for the Irish.
Tug Valley shot 46 percent from the floor making 23-50, including 7-19 from behind the arc for 37 percent. They went 5-10 at the free throw line for 50 percent.
CCHS shot 41 percent from the field hitting 14-34 shots, including 54 percent from 3-point land making -11 and 7-9 at the charity stripe for 78 percent.
Tug Valley finished the season with a 24-3 record.
Score by quarters:
CCHS … 18 8 5 10 - 41
TVHS …. 19 13 11 15 - 58
Tug Valley - Muncy 21, Newsome 10, Brewer 15, Baisden 8, Dillon 4, Sturgell 0.
Charleston Catholic - Godwin 7, McCarty 10, George 13, Casto 2, Hovorda 9.