The first period went the way the Tigers wanted, as Matt Kennedy scored the final eight points of the frame to give Matewan a 14-7 lead after the first period.
The Tigers continued to extend the lead early in the second quarter by going on a 9-0 run, including five points from Brandon Burgraff, to make it a 23-7 Tiger lead.
Tug Valley finally found its groove midway through the second period and answered with an 14-3 run, including eight points from Austin Vance and four points from Michael Evans, to cut Matewan’s lead to five, 26-21.
Matewan finished out the half strong, however, and took a 31-24 lead into the locker room at the intermission. Both teams continued to trade baskets throughout the third period.
Burgraff led the Tigers in the frame with seven points, but Vance hit a 3-pointer with the clock winding down to keep Tug Valley within striking distance, 42-34, heading into the final frame.
Josh Sammons scored on a three-point play early in the fourth play to extend Matewan’s lead to 45-34. Just when things appeared to be heading the Tigers’ way, Tug Valley caught fire.
After two Aaron Perry free throws, Damron nailed a trifecta to cut the lead to six, 45-39. Perry was then fouled on a 3-pointer and hit all three foul shots. The Panthers immediately stole the ball and Vance hit a 3-pointer to tie the contest. A few seconds later, Damron stole the ball and drove in for a layup to give Tug Valley the lead, 47-45, with 4:58 left in the game.
The Panthers quickly regained possession and extended their advantage to
five on a three-point play from Evans. Matewan didn’t fold, however, as the Tigers went on a 6-2 spurt of their own, including a deep 3-pointer from Burgraff, to cut the Panthers’ lead to one, 52-51. Both teams continued to trade baskets down the stretch before Sammons nailed a 3-pointer with :28 left to give Matewan a 56-55 lead.
On Tug Valley’s next possession, Damron drew a foul with 0:15 left. He made
the first free throw but missed his second attempt, and the Panthers were forced to foul Burgraff with 0:10 remaining. Burgraff missed the front end of the bonus, though. On the rebound, a jump ball was called, giving possession to Tug Valley with 7.2 seconds to play.
On the ensuing play, Damron received the inbounds pass, dribbled up the floor and found Vance for the game-winner.
Vance led Tug Valley with 21 points. Evans had 16 points.