Evans netted 13 points to lead the Panthers, while Preece scored 11.
“Channing played very well and has put on three, All-State performances,” Tug Valley Coach Garland “Rabbit” Thompson said. “Michael was a warrior inside and he battled and scored. They were all over him two or three times and he played strong.”
Tug Valley’s defense also came up big, holding Poca to just seven field goals, including four 3-pointers in the game. Poca made the majority of its points at the foul line, sinking 17-of-25 free throws.
“I thought we played real good defense,” Thompson said. “I can’t remember them making too many direct, line-drives to the basket. Poca is a very talented team. I was tickled to death with our defense. Now, we get to go to Charleston, thank God. I’m tickled to death with these kids.”
The two teams kept close in the first quarter, with Poca taking a 14-13 lead when Clinton Parsons hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Panthers, though, outscored Poca 11-5 in the second quarter to take a 24-19 lead at halftime.
“I think that once we got the lead right there in the second quarter and got control of the game, it was easier to play our tempo, our pace,” Thompson said.
Tug opened up the second quarter with five unanswered points. Ducky Maynard scored his only two points of the game on a layin and Preece netted a 3 to give Tug Valley an 18-14 lead with 6:24 left in the first half.
Poca’s Brian Sigman hit a 3-pointer to cut the Dots’ deficit to one, 18-17, but the Panthers went on a 6-0 run that put them in front 24-17.
Poca finished the quarter with a jumper from Jason Cuffee to set the halftime score.
In the third quarter, the Panthers outscored Poca 17-9 behind six points from Preece and five from Evans.
Tug then drove the final nails into the Dots’ coffin by outscoring Poca 13-7 in the fourth quarter.
With the win, Tug Valley improves to 16-9 and the Panthers will play next Thursday in the first round of the West Virginia Class AA state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum in Charleston.
Nathan Brewer scored nine for Tug Valley, while Austin Vance added eight, Mason Pack scored six, Zack Preece netted three and Derek Hayes dumped in two.
“Nathan played well,” Thompson said. “Mason came in and played well. It was a total team effort.”
The Panthers scored 19 field goals, including a trio of 3s. From the foul line, Tug Valley made 13-of-18 free throws.
Cuffee led the Dots with 17 points, while Sigman added eight before fouling out, Parsons scored four, Heath Barrett poured in three, Hunter Hawley scored two and Will Skidmore finished with one.
The Dots end their season with a 15-10 record.