NAUGATUCK — The Tug Valley High School boys’ basketball team will have to play with a “sense of urgency,” according to head coach Garland “Rabbit” Thompson.
This next game, the Class A, Region 3 Section 1 co-championship, is tonight against Valley Fayette in Montgomery, W.Va.
This is sudden death.
It’s one and done now, no second chances.
The Panthers get one more chance to make it to the state tournament next week after losing to Greater Beckley Christian this past weekend in the sectional finals at the Raleigh County Armory.
Tug Valley is the defending Class A state champs. The year before that they won the Class AA state title. Over the years the Mingo County high school, a consolidation of Kermit and Lenore, has made several trips to the state tournament in both classes. They won their first state title back in 1999.
Tug Valley defeated Valley Fayette 42-39 in the regular season. It was the only game the two regional opponents played this year.
“I’m sure they remember their loss at Tug Valley,” Thompson said. “They’ve got a good basketball team. This will be an emotional game and we will be playing in a hostile environment. We need to play smart and take care of the basketball.”
Valley Fayette has only lost three games this season and comes in with a record of 21-3. Tug Valley is now 17-6 heading into the regional co-final.
Valley Fayette will likely start seniors Donte Wilkerson, Raeshawn Breckenridge and Keyshawn Payne, sophomores Druw Bowen, Henry Barron-Houchins and Zac Warden.
The Greyhounds have a balanced scoring attack.
Warden averages 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. Breckenridge averages 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists per game. Barron-Houchins checks in at 14 points, six assists and four steals per contest. Bowen averages a double-double at 11 points and 10 rebounds a game.
Thompson will use his 7-to-8 man rotation led by senior Thomas Baisden, juniors Hayden Sturgell, Aaron Copley, Kyle Newsome, Austin Baisden and Shane Marcum, along with sophomore Calvin Blankenship.
Baisden leads Tug as he averages 15 points and 10 boards a game. Blankenship averages around 10 points per contest.
The game will be played at Valley’s home gym in Montgomery.
The tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
The game can be heard on WXCC 96.5 FM for those fans that can’t make the trip.