By Rick Ryan
Speical to the Daily News
SOUTH CHARLESTON - The city of Charleston has been a pretty nice place for Austin Brewer and Mikey Newsome the last couple of years.
The Tug Valley guard duo led their team to a Class AA basketball championship at the Civic Center in 2012 and followed that up with a Class A title last March after the school dropped a division.
They also won a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown game against defending Class A state champion Charleston Catholic during the “Shootout at the Big House,” a one-day Civic Center showcase in February. Then earlier this spring, each committed to playing at the University of Charleston.
They get another shot at hoops success in the Kanawha Valley tonight when they compete in the North-South All-Star Basketball Classic at the South Charleston Community Center. Tipoff is set for about 7:30.
Brewer and Newsome, both first-team all-staters, will suit up for the South squad tonight, continuing a longtime relationship on the court.
“We kind of knew we wanted to go together,” Newsome said. “We’ve been together since we was 5 years old. We’re just such a good couple together. I’ve told everybody this, that out of all the players in the state of West Virginia, I would rather play with Austin than anybody.”
Brewer said that UC coach Mark Downey started to watch him play during his junior season at Tug, then also began to keep an eye on Newsome.
“They was interested in me,” Brewer said, “and came to watch a few of our games last year. This year, they started to say they was wanting me and watching me all year, then ended up wanting Mikey, too. So it made it kind of easier for us to make a decision and stay together.
“If we had a chance to [stay together], we was going to do it because it made it a lot easier. We wanted to stay together if we could, and that worked out good for us.”
The 6-foot-2 Brewer was one of the Panthers’ tallest athletes, but wound up playing a lot of point guard — his true position — and the spot he’ll be looked at with the Golden Eagles. He averaged 15.1 points, eight rebounds and six assists as a senior.
Newsome, meanwhile, was Tug’s long-range shooter and led the team in scoring as both a senior (17.8) and junior (17.4) during those championship runs.
The Mingo County tandem realizes there is the potential for playing time on UC’s roster following the dismissal of guards Terrell Lipkins and Robbie Dreher and forward Quincy Washington after the trio was charged following a robbery in downtown Charleston in April.
“They have some openings because of the incident that happened there,” Newsome said. “We’re still going to go there with the same mindset that we’ll take the winning attitude that we had at Tug Valley to the University of Charleston.”
Tug Valley made a bit of history in March when it became the first public school to capture a Class A boys basketball title since another Mingo County school, Williamson, turned the trick in 2001.
The Panthers, however, were fed a steady diet of AAA and AA schools on their schedule the past two seasons to challenge players like Brewer and Newsome, and it paid off handsomely with a pair of championships.
Now the Tug tandem would like to show fans around the state that, hey, Class A’s got talent, too.
“This is just a huge opportunity,” Brewer said, “and we’re just going to come up here and have fun, and just show everybody that single-A can compete with double-A and triple-A. We’re just going to give it our all and have fun while we do it.”
“We kinda got a chip on our shoulder being in the single-A division,” he said. “We want to show everybody we can play with anybody in the state.”
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.