NEWTOWN - Tug Valley keeps its bragging rights against Mingo Central when it comes to battles on the basketball court as the Panthers defeated the Miners 66 to 45 Tuesday night up on the mountain at the MCHS gym.
The game was played in front of a packed house with plenty of fans representing both schools and two active student body cheering sections.
Tug Valley defeated consolidated Mingo Central three times last season, twice during the regular season and once in the Class AA tourney. This year the two schools will only play twice because the Panthers are now in Class A. The next matchup will be Friday, February 8 at Naugatuck.
The game Tuesday was close for three quarters. Even deep into the final quarter, Mingo Central was able to cut the Tug Valley lead to six points with 5:37 left.
However, a missed shot and turnover by the Miners helped the Panthers extend the lead to 54 to 44 with 2:33 left as Thomas Baisden scored on a backdoor layup.
From that point Tug Valley coasted to the win. They increased their lead to 60-44 with 1:38 left and built onto the lead to make the final margin 21.
Tug Valley led 20-15 after one quarter. Senior all-state guards Mikey Newsome and Austin Brewer helped control the tempo for coach Garland “Rabbit” Thompson’s team. Junior forward Thomas Baisden had a career night for the Panthers.
Baisden ended up with 20 points and pulled down several rebounds. Brewer finished with 21 and Newsome, who was battling the stomach flu, finished with 11. Brewer also dished out six assists.
“They gave us a real good battle ,” Thompson said. “Austin (Brewer) played a good game for us. He got in a little foul trouble, but Thomas (Baisden) did a very good job tonight and Mikey played well even though he was sick.”
Julius Hatcher, a junior guard, helped Mingo Central stay close in the first half with four 3-pointers including three in the first period.
“Julius Hatcher went off. He hit three or four threes,” Thompson said. “We had a talk about that at halftime.”
“I thought we played hard and played well for the most part,” Mingo coach Brad Napier said. “We had three or four bad possessions in a row in the fourth quarter. When you play a team like Tug Valley you can’t make those kinds of mistakes. They are hard to stop. When they’re making shots, it makes it really tough to defend.”
“All in all this was a good win in a great environment and on the road,” added Thompson. “They’ve got a good basketball team. Anytime you go on the road and come away with a win it’s a good thing. I thought we played much better in the second half.”
Austin Banks, the senior point guard and leader of the Miners, had an off night shooting. He only had two points in the first half and finished with 11.
“Julius shot the ball well in the first half. These guys have been shooting the ball well in practice, but we’ve just been struggling in the games lately,” Napier said, “tonight Julius translated that into a game.”
Marqus Cunningham had eight points and seven rebounds for the Miners.
Mingo got some good minutes off the bench from Zack Barker and Trevor Cline. Barker had five points and played good low post defense, while Cline had xx and hit the boards hard in limited minutes.
“Different guys have been stepping up all season for us. Tonight I didn’t like the energy we were getting from a couple of guys – so I went with some other players,” Napier said. “They seemed to bring energy and we seemed to play better when they were on the court.”
Tug Valley is now 8-1 on the season. The No. 3 ranked Panthers travel to Westside on Friday night and take on Riverside Saturday night in the Hatfield-McCoy Shootout at the Williamson Fieldhouse.
“We beat them once at home, but it will be different up there,” Thompson said of Westside.
Mingo Central is now 6-5 and 3-3 in the Cardinal Conference. They travel to Herbert Hoover Friday night for a conference matchup and will take on Ripley Saturday in the Ky. - W.Va. Shootout at the Williamson Fieldhouse.
“We are playing a Hoover team that is on a roll. That’s kind of scary,” Napier said of the Herbert Hoover Huskies. “They are probably the biggest team we will play all year. They are 6-8, 6-5, 6-5 and 6-4. It will be a tough one. We’ll have to play with 100 percent effort on Friday night to have a chance.”
Score by quarters:
TV … 20 10 14 22 - 66
MC … 15 8 12 10 – 45
Tug Valley (8-1) - White 3, Muncy 5, Newsome 11, Brewer 21, Baisden 20, Dillon 6.
Ming Central (6-5) - Lester 3, Barker 5, Banks 11, Cunningham 8, Hammond 1, Cline 5, Hatcher 12.