With the upcoming sectional tournaments about two weeks away, Saturday night’s Logan-Tug Valley high school boys’ basketball team amounted to an exhibition game.
The Wildcats are Triple-A and the Panthers are Class A, so they will not meet at any time during the post-season.
But that does not mean there wasn’t a lot on the line as the two teams met at Logan High School’s Willie Akers Arena.
Logan, currently sporting a sub .500 record, is trying to get things together before the playoffs and were trying to snap a four-game losing streak to Tug Valley. The Wildcats did not want to lose to the Single-A Panthers for the fifth straight time.
Tug Vallley, which has won two straight state championships in Class AA and Class A, also had something to prove. The Panthers wanted to knock off a 3A team on its home floor and gain some momentum heading into sectional play, where TV is projected to battle Greater Beckley Christian in the section final.
The battle went right down to the wire as Logan prevailed 47-46 over the Panthers to improve to 7-9 on the season. It was a good win for Logan, which was swept by Tug Valley in each of the last two seasons.
Tug Valley dropped to 11-5 with the loss and saw its six-game winning streak snapped.
The game was decided in the final seconds.
Logan took a 47-44 lead with 23.4 seconds left as Zac Acord drilled two key free throws, forcing the Panthers to either a quick two and a steal or a potential game-tying 3-point shot.
Tug Valley dribbled down court and looked as if it was trying to set up a 3. Logan’s defense, however, stayed on the shooters and the ball was soon loose on the floor. The ball eventually was slapped down low on the blocks as Tug Valley’s Thomas Baisden scored a meaningless lay-in with four seconds left.
With the Panthers out of timeouts and down a point, Logan did not retrieve the ball and did not have to inbound as time ran out.
It was a strange ending to an overall close ballgame.
Both teams looked somewhat rusty but with all of the game cancellations over the last month that was quite understandable.
It’s been a rough winter as school has been cancelled in Logan and Mingo counties more than 10 times and that has made it hard for area basketball teams to get into any kind of game rhythm or flow.
Logan coach Mark Hatcher said he was still happy to get the win.
“We had talked about possibly fouling there,” Hatcher said, when asked about the turn of events in the closing seconds. “We decided not to foul but to switch up everything. If they hit a 3 then we will go to overtime. I told them not to foul and if they go inside then give it up and let them have the layup because they were out of timeouts.”
Hatcher said it was good to beat the Panthers.
“It’s been a few years,” Hatcher said. “It was a good win. It was typical of our fall league games against each other. They had a couple of guys who stepped up and played really well. Zak Miller really stepped up and hit some big shots and Kareem Clansy had eight points in the second half. Defensively, I thought that we did a really good job but both teams were so familiar with each other and it was hard to score.”
Tug Valley coach Garland Thompson said his team was setting up a 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
“We were trying to get a 3 but we lost the ball and there was a scramble,” he said. “Any time you battle Logan tooth and nail it’s good. I’m disappointed that we lost. We played pretty good but they come to our place next Saturday night. It could be different, at least we hope so.”
Miller led Logan with 18 points — all coming on six 3-pointers. Clansy had eight points off the bench. Worm Street had seven, while Josh Rein had six on a pair of 3s. Acord added four points and Trevor Abbott and Braxton Goff had two each.
Tug Valley was paced by Calvin Blankenship’s 16 points. Thomas Baisden had 14, while Hayden Sturgill had 12. Austin Baisden and Kyle Newsome tossed in two each.
The Panthers were 9-for-10 from the free throw line for 90 percent. Logan was 9-for-11 from the line for 81.8 percent.
Tug Valley led 6-3 after one quarter and 19-16 at the half. The Wildcats outscored the Panthers 16-10 in the third to grab a 32-29 lead. TV then outpointed Logan 17-15 in the fourth.
Down three at the half, Logan caught fire in the third quarter as Miller hit a trio of 3-pointers, the last of which gave the Cats a 27-25 lead.
After a Street post-up move in the lane and two Goff free throws, Logan was up 32-29 after three.
In the fourth, Tug Valley scored five straight points to take a 34-32 lead. The Cats then tied it at 34 with 6:02 left on Street’s tip-in.
Logan made it 37-34 with 4:41 to go with another Miller 3.
Clansy’s runner with 3:50 remaining gave LHS a 39-36 lead. Clansy then used a head fake down low for two underneath the rack to make it 41-38.
Tug Valley cut it to 41-40 at the 2:48 mark with Sturgill’s 15-footer. The Panthers later cut it to one at 43-32 with Baisden’s inside bucket with 1:53 to go.
Clansy then connected on two free throws to make it 45-42 Logan.
The Panthers trimmed it to one once again at 45-44 with a scoop by Sturgill with 44 ticks left.
Acord then hit the two free throws for Logan and the Cats held on for victory.
The two teams have a rematch this Saturday night at Naugatuck in a makeup game. Last Saturday night’s contest was also a makeup game.
“We play them again at the end of the week, so that will be interesting,” Hatcher said.
Logan is scheduled to return to action on Tuesday night against Winfield at the Charleston Civic Center in the Little General Stores Shootout. Tip time is set for 8 p.m. The Logan High School girls take on Class A No. 1 Huntington St. Joe at 6:30 p.m.
Several other area high school and middle school teams are also set to play in the two-day event at the Civic Center.
On Tuesday, the Harts Middle School boys are scheduled to take on Madison Middle School at 11 a.m. to tip off the day’s action.
Game 2 has the Logan Middle School boys squaring off with Our Lady of Fatima Middle School from Huntington at 12:30 p.m.
In Game 3, the Logan JV boys are set to play George Washington at 2:30 p.m.
In other non-Logan games on Tuesday: the Huntington St. Joe boys play Liberty Raleigh at 3:30 p.m.; the George Washington High School boys take on Elkins at 5 p.m.; and the Charleston Catholic boys square off with Westside at 9:30 p.m.
Eight games are then on tap for Feb. 19 beginning with the Lenore Middle School boys taking on Ravenswood at 10 a.m.
Game 2 pits Huntington Prep against Riverside Christian Academy form Lumberton, N.C.
In the third game, Frankfort plays Wheeling Linsly at 1 p.m.
Game 4 has Morgantown playing Wyoming East at 2:30 p.m.
Then at 4 p.m., South Charleston battles with Flora MacDonald Academy from Red Springs, N.C.
The sixth game at 5:30 p.m. is a girls’ matchup between George Washington and Parkersburg South, the defending Class AAA state champions and No. 1-ranked team in the state.
Game 7 has Buffalo-Putnam tipping off with Magnolia at 7 p.m.
The final game at 8:30 p.m. has Beckley Woodrow Wilson playing Parkersburg South.
“There’s a lot going on Tuesday and Wednesday. Logan Middle School plays, as well as Madison Middle, Harts Middle and Lenore Middle,” Hatcher said. “There’s going to be some really good games. Flora MacDonald, who came here to play a couple of years ago, will also be playing.”
Logan is also looking ahead to the upcoming Class AAA sectional tourney at Cabell Midland High School. The sectional will be made up again of Huntington, Logan, Cabell Midland, Spring Valley and Lincoln County.
No. 2-ranked Huntington (16-2), which has an 82-67 win over over the Wildcats this season is the likely No. 1 seed. Spring Valley (10-6) and Logan are the likely 2/3 seeds. Cabell Midland (4-15) and Lincoln County (3-11), which have both struggled this season and are a combined 0-3 against Logan, are the likely 4/5 seeds.
The seeding and voting, however, have not yet been conducted.
The Class AAA section tourney is slated to open on March 3 with the play-in game between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeded teams. Then on March 3, the No. 1 seed faces the 4/5 winner. The second game on March 3 pits the No. 2 and No. 3 seeded teams.
The sectional championship game is set for March 7. Both the sectional champion and runner-up will advance to the upcoming regional tourney.
Logan has seemed to establish itself at least as a No. 3 seed, meaning the Wildcats would play in the 2/3 game against Spring Valley. However, nothing yet is official.
“Seeding is due Friday,” Hatcher said. “A lot of these games this week are going to be very important and will decide the seeds. There’s still a lot of things that could happen. I think that we’ve done enough to establish ourselves because we have beaten Cabell Midland. We should be (at least a No. 3 seed), so it could be us and Spring Valley. But there are a few more games. Spring Valley and Cabell Midland play each other this week. If Cabell Midland beats Spring Valley that could move some things. If we would beat Winfield on Tuesday that would be huge for us because they are a top 10 team.”
Logan beat Spring Valley in last year’s sectional but lost to Huntington in the sectional final. Logan then was knocked off at Hurricane in the regional tournament.
Hatcher said the bad weather and cancelations have hurt just about everyone.
“It’s been tough,” he said. “I think that you saw that tonight with both teams. We were off two days this week and didn’t get to practice much. We only really got to practice one day. Conditioning has been a big thing. I don’t think many teams are in great shape right now because you never know when you are going to be playing next.”
Thompson said his team is looking forward to the upcoming sectional tourney with Greater Beckley Christian, Man, Van, Sherman and Montcalm. GBC and Tug Valley are the top two rated teams and are expected to reach the championship game.
“We’re excited about it,” he said. “Greater Beckley is very tough but we have to take care of business first. We don’t have the seedings yet.”
Logan also beat Tug Valley in Saturday night’s JV game, 62-55.
The Logan High School girls’ basketball team is scheduled to open the Class AAA sectional tournament with a Feb. 26 contest against Huntington at Huntington High School.
The Lady Cats beat Huntington in last year’s sectional tourney to advance and also toppled the Lady Highlanders 62-54 at home this season.
In Class AA, Chapmanville Regional High School’s girls are set to open its sectionals the same night against Tolsia at Logan. Game time is 8 p.m.
The Lady Tigers went 2-0 this season over Tolsia, winning 55-36 and 38-36.
Scott received the No. 1 seed and open Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. against the winner of the game between No. 4 Mingo Central and No. 5 Wayne. MC and Wayne are set to meet in the play-in game on Feb. 24 at Chapmanville.
Man High School’s Class A girls’ sectional brackets have not been announced.