NAUGATUCK – Tug Valley rained down 13 3-pointers against No.4 seeded Sherman, on Tuesday night to take the win by a final score of 92-43.
A storm formed above the Tug Valley High School Gymnasium like the Panthers were summoning their super powers. That super power is the ability to shoot the long ball. Tug Valley scored 50 points in the first half, that stunned the Tide and ignited the home crowd.
The Panthers stormed the gates at the beginning and won the first period by a score of 31-12. The Panthers shot 70 percent from behind the 3-point line making 7 of 10 3-pointers. Calvin Blankenship set the speed with the first points of the game, a 3-pointer that was followed by many more. The Panthers jumped ahead on a 7-2 run and Tyler May nailed a 3-pointer to push the Panthers faster.
The Panthers applied a full court press on the Tide to start the game and it worked to perfection. With 3:33 left to play in the first, the score was 14-8 until May hit another 3-pointer. May started a chain reaction as he nailed one more from way downtown, then Garrett Brown hit a 3-pointer to make the score 26-10. Calvin Blankenship hit the next 3-pointer as the final minute began to slip away.
The Panthers didn’t let the break between quarters affect them, heading into the second period the Panthers were almost unstoppable. Jeremy Dillon laid in an easy lay-up to start the Panthers scoring train. May nailed another 3-pointer and then another one after that. Brown hit another 3-pointer and the Panthers evolved from boys to basketball “Mon-Stars.” Dillon swatted a Sherman shot back down to the floor, Johnathan Blankenship jumped over the entire Sherman team for a loose ball, and Calvin Blankenship hit a pull up jumper to put the Panthers lead at 30 points with 4:46 remaining before halftime.
The Tide mustered up some fight and scored six points while the Panthers took a breather. Panthers Head Coach Ed May noticed the sudden sloppy play from his team and called a quick time out with just under two minutes to play before halftime. The Panthers ended the second period ahead 50-25.
The nets were still smoking as the Panthers hit the floor for the third period until the lights suddenly shut off. The storm created by the Panthers shooting had knocked the lights out. The crowd collectively gasped as the gym went dark; but the brief twenty minute intermission was welcomed by both teams.
Tug Valley went on a 15-0 run in the first four minutes of the third quarter. During that run Calvin Blankenship received the ball on a fast break and smiled when he turned towards the goal and saw no one in front of him. He picked an angle and threw down a dunk that whipped the crowd into a frenzy. May added another 3-pointer directly after.
The Sherman players were beginning to get more physical, obviously out of frustration. Johnathan Blankenship was shoved hard into the wall by a Sherman player and the Panther bench erupted. Johnathan Blankenship sprang up quickly and continued to play. Sherman scored 11 points in the third but the Panthers scored 28, making the score 78-36 at the end of three.
The Panthers bench took over in the fourth and continued the shooting lesson. The crowd hit hysteria when Alex Carter hit a 3-pointer from the left corner. The big man, Brett Ooten, surprised himself with a 3-pointer, then gained full confidence when his next 3-point attempt slid through the bottom of the net. The Panthers had combined for a total of 92 points as the final buzzer sounded from a true collective team effort.
The Panthers leading scorer for the season, Dillon, was not without a few moments to add to the high-light reel. Late in the second quarter Dillon brought the ball down the floor and went behind the back straight into a cross-over that made the Sherman defender in front him appear to lay down in a trance. The Panther crowd reacted accordingly.
Dillon finished the night with 11 points, seven assists and three rebounds. May finished the night going 5 for 6 from behind the arc and shooting a total 67 percent for 17 points. Brown went 3 for 5 from behind the 3-point line and scored 11 points as well. Calvin Blankenship led the Panthers in scoring with 21 points, shooting 82 percent over-all.
The Panthers team stats from the game show them shooting 62 percent from the floor making 23 of 37 shots, 59 percent from behind the 3-point line making 13 of 22 shots, and 61 percent altogether making 36 of 59 shots. Tug Valley went 7 for 10 from the free throw line.
Following the win Panthers Head Coach Ed May said, “I feel like we have played our best basketball here at the end of the season, throughout the season I think we got off to a little bit of a slower start than most people expected. There was a learning curve to over come, the kids had to adjust to me and I had to adjust to them. I feel like tonight was the best half of basketball we have played.
“I’m glad we didn’t come out flat and overlook them (Sherman), Everyone around here already has us in Charleston but I keep telling everyone we have to win this one first,” added May.
The Panthers advance through the second round of the Region 3, Section 1 tournament and will face Van this Friday at Tug Valley. Van upset the Man Hillbillies Tuesday night by a final score of 63-53.
May said, “Now it’s time for us to focus on Van, we will get some tape on them and study up. I know they are guard oriented and we are looking forward to the game.”
Score by quarters:
TV: 31 19 28 14 – 92
SH: 12 13 11 7 – 43
TV: Jeremy Dillon -11, Johnathan Blankenship -4, Chandler Runyon 7, Tyler May -17, Corbin Oliver -4, Alex Carter -3, Garrett Brown -11, Calvin Blankenship -21, Colby Savage -8, Brett Ooten -6,
SH: Will Hensley -3, Caleb Duncan -17, Logan Kauff -2, Blake Nelson -4, Bailey Kirk -6, Tyler Pettry -2, Jacob maynor -5, John Craig -2, Hunter Breeden -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)