NAUGATUCK – The road to the state tournament might get a little tougher for Tug Valley on Friday night as they host No. 6 Greater Beckley Christian (GBC) for the Class A, Region 3, Section 1 championship at 7 p.m.
The Panthers, ranked No. 1 in Class A, defeated the Crusaders 74-61 at home back in January and then 61-60 in early February at the Beckley Armory.
“We beat them here the first time and the second time we just got by,” said Garland “Rabbit” Thompson. “We used the excuse of a long 2 ½ drive the last time. We better be ready for them.”
“We’ll have to put the pedal to the medal,” Thompson added. “They will come in here playing hard.”
Thompson said he doesn’t plan to change anything for the game with Beckley Christian.
“We will do what we always do,” said the Panther head coach. “We’ll press and try to contain (Javonne) Staunton Bailey. The Mullins (Keith) kid is a good one too.”
“We will have to step it up a notch and be ready to play,” Thompson concluded.
GBC is coached by former Mingo Christian basketball coach Dan Burd.
Greater Beckley Christian poured in 12 3-point baskets in their victory over the Sherman Tide in Region 3, Section 1 semi-final action Tuesday.
Tug Valley annihilated Man 94-36 in their semi-final game.
Mullins dropped in five 3-point buckets, giving him 71 for the year, to finish with 21 points in the win. Staunton-Bailey led all scorers with 23 points and 11 assists for the Crusaders. Brent Daniels added 18 points and Elisha Kidd scored eight for GBC.
Tug Valley is led by a pair of senior all-state guards in Mikey Newsome and Austin Brewer. Newsome is averaging close to 18 points per game and has fired in 41 3-pointers, while Brewer is averaging 15 points a game and dishing out seven assists.
Another returning senior starter from last year’s Class AA state title team is Aaron Muncy (6 ppg.), who is a solid performer for the Panthers. Junior forward Thomas Baisden is averaging over 12 points per game. Senior center Corey Dillon comes in averaging 5 points per game and is a steady rebounder.
Kyle Newsome, Austin Baisden, Hayden Sturgell and Aaron Copley provided depth for Tug Valley off the bench.
The Panthers are 2-3 heading into Friday night’s contest. GBC comes in with a record of 18-4.