The No. 2-ranked TVHS basketball team was stopped in its tracks with a 47-44 loss at No. 3 Poca in Wednesday night’s Class AA Region 4 co-final before a packed house at the Poca High School gym.
The Dots had to rally late.
Down by three with one minute to go in the game, senior Jason Cuffee, a recent Division I signee with Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, connected on 4-of-4 free throws down the stretch and forced a critical jump ball possession to lead the Dots to the win.
A potential game-tying 3-point shot by Tug Valley’s Mikey Newsome bounced off the rim in the final seconds.
Cuffee finished with 17 points, seven boards, two steals and two blocked shots. He made 9-of-11 of his free throws.
Poca got revenge on the Panthers which beat the Dots in last year’s regional final at Naugatuck. The Dots head to the state tourney for the first time since 2002.
Clinton Parsons added 13 points for Poca, which improved to 22-3 on the season.
Tug Valley (18-6) got 15 points from 6-foot-9 center Mason Pack and 13 from Austin Vance.
Poca led 14-10 after one quarter, 26-25 at the half and 35-33 after three.