HURRICANE — The No. 1 seed Tug Valley Panthers disposed of the No. 5 seed Buffalo Bison in the semifinals of the Class A Region IV Section II tournament held on Tuesday night at Hurricane High School, keeping their season afloat with a 64-52 victory.
Tug (11-12) would win the opening tip and get on the board first with 7:18 left in the first quarter behind a layup by sophomore center Ethan Colegrove.
A steal and layup by junior guard Caleb May and a basket by junior forward Easton Davis would put them ahead 6-2 early on, but the Bison (10-16) would tie the game up on back-to-back baskets by guards Jackson England and Ian Thompson.
The Panthers went in front again at 14-10 on a trey ball by Davis, but then their lead was cut to one point on a long ball by Buffalo guard Alec Hanshaw. However, May would put the Black and White ahead 20-13 at the end of the period by nailing back to back three-point attempts. .
Tug Valley would then start the second frame on a 12-4 run and jump ahead by a 32-17 score, and they would lead by no less than 10 points for the rest of the period, as they held a 40-28 advantage at the end of the first half after Colegrove made a layup for the silver-and-black with 2.8 seconds left in the quarter.
Colegrove lead Valley in the quarter with six points scored, while May added five tallies. Junior forward Justin Hall tacked on four points of his own in the period.
Head coach Garland “Rabbit” Thompson’s squad would again start the third quarter firing on all cylinders, propelling their lead to 47-33 early in the period behind two layups by Colegrove and a jump shot by May.
TVHS would continue to keep the game in check by not letting their lead get reduced to single digits, and they lead the contest by a score of 51-40 at the end of the frame. May and Colegrove each put four points on the scoresheet in the period for the Panthers.
The Bison would get a layup by guard England and nail two foul shots to finally reduce the Tug lead to less than 10 points at 51-44 and by seven points again at 53-46, but the momentum would shift back into the Panthers’ favor as they would extend their lead back to double digits behind layups by May, Savage, and an and-one layup with a successful foul shot by Colegrove to make their lead 60-46 late in the fourth quarter.
Tug Valley would go on to win the game by a final score of 64-52 to end the campaign for head coach Adam Scott’s Bison at 10-16. May lead all scorers with 24 points for the Panthers, while Colegrove also broke the 20-point plateau by adding 20 tallies. Davis scored six points, while juniors Joby Sorrell and Justin Hall each tacked on three.
Thompson gave credit to Buffalo where credit was due.
“Anytime you win in the tournament it’s good,” the Tug head coach said afterward. “To be honest, we’ve been off so long, we last played Saturday before last (against Westside). It’s been a while since we played, that had a little bit to do with it. I think more than anything it was them kids over there at Buffalo. They played hard, they did not quit, you got to give them a lot of credit. Every time I looked up there they would hit a shot, and it’s a ballgame. I’m happy to come out of here with a win tonight.”
May and Colegrove capped off the affair with the Bison with outstanding performances, and that is something Thompson didn’t let go unnoticed.
“Caleb (May) is our main man,” Thompson said. “He’s (Colegrove) our big inside, they both played very well. Without them, we don’t go no where. All eight of them played good. I rotated them all year. I told them right there just a little while ago, because some of them got in foul trouble, that all eight of them really contributed. Ethan’s (Colegrove) been making his foul shots. I don’t know what he was from the floor, but his shot selection is a lot better, and Caleb (May) can get to the basket just about any time he wants to.”
Thompson pointed out how winning is all that matters for his team at this point.
“We’re here to win,” he said. “We want to win, that’s our approach. In order to do that, you got to be a good basketball team. You got to do a lot of little things. You got to defend hard with passion, you got to rebound, you got to make excellent decisions on the offensive end, but we’ve preached all year that here’s the tournament, this is what we’ve been getting ready for. Now, these kids have to step up and know what’s at stake here for everybody.”
No. 6 seed Van (6-18) upset the No. 2 seed Tolsia Rebels by a final score of 89-74 in the nightcap of the two semifinal games at Hurricane High on Tuesday night, so that means Tug Valley returned to HHS to face off against coach Dave Gogas and the Bulldogs in the Class A Section 2 championship on Friday night.
Score by quarters:
BHS (10-16): 13 15 12 12 — 52
TVHS (11-12): 20 20 11 13 — 64
BUF: A. Hanshaw 11; J. England 10; I. Thompson 9; B. Harris 8; A. Slaman 6; N. Thompson 5; A. Fowler 2; S. Landers 1
TV: C. May 24; E. Colegrove 20; E. Davis 6; I. Reed 4; J. Sorrell 3; J. Hall 3; Z. Savage 2; M. Linville 2