The Tug Valley Panthers’ second year in familiar territory along with an impressive display from Nathan Brewer and Austin Vance led to their victory over Magnolia, 69-51.
“I started out in the first quarter and I couldn’t hit anything,” said Brewer. “In the second quarter I got a layup from Channing (Preece) and that kind of got me going a little bit.”
That seemed to get the Panthers as a team going, too.
After a lackluster first quarter, pressure from Magnolia and the weight of the game itself bogged down the Panthers, but they broke free of both by going on an 18-3 run before the half.
The Blue Eagles never saw the lead again, only coming within 6 points of Tug Valley in the fourth.
In the second half, Tug Valley upped their pressure on Magnolia defensively after grabbing the lead causing the Blue Eagles to turn the ball over 20 times throughout the game.
“I was pretty confident coming into this game,” said Magnolia Head Coach Dave Tallman. “We had only one turnover in the second half against Ravenswood in our regional game. You have to give Tug Valley a lot of credit; we had way too many turnovers.”
Earlier this week, Tug Valley Head Coach Garland Thompson expressed concern about the size difference between the two teams. That difference didn’t seem to affect the Panthers in the long run other than the Blue Eagles grabbing 40 rebounds to the Panthers 32.
“It was a physical contest early on, but I think our press started to bother them and we got a handle on the game,” said Thompson. “Man to man full court pressure was our game plan going in and we can go from defense to offense as quick as anyone.”
When asked about Brewer’s play and the improvements he’s made through his high school career Thompson said he was “a man amongst boys”.
Brewer scored the game high of 20 points for the Panthers with Vance right behind him with 18. Michael Evans scored 14 points, Cody Varney came off the bench to net 7, and Channing Preece and Mason Pack each scored 5.
The Panthers sank 26-of-50 field goals, 13-of-20 free throws, and 4 of 16 from the three-point range. Magnolia didn’t sink one three-pointer through 16 tries.
Tug Valley’s field goal percentage drastically improved between the halves, sinking only 38.2 percent in the first half and 50 percent in the second.
Mark Winters led the Blue Eagles in scoring with 19 points and Jared Blatt scored 14.
The Blue Eagles end their season with a record of 16-4.
Tug Valley (17-5) continues in the West Virginia Class AA Boys’ Basketball State Tournament with semifinal play against the number one seeded Wyoming East (21-2) Friday, March 19 at 1 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center.
MHS 12 10 15 14-51
TVHS 11 20 15 23-69