NAUGATUCK — The Man High School girls’ basketball team ran out of gas in the second half of Thursday night’s Class A Region 3 Section 1 championship game at Tug Valley as the Lady Billies lost 58-37 in the finals at the Tug Valley High School gym in Naugatuck.
Man (14-9), however, is still alive as the Lady Billies have advanced to Thursday’s Class A regional co-championship at Fayetteville (17-6). The Pirates beat Valley Fayette 53-49 in the other sectional title game.
Tug Valley (15-8), the No. 1 sectional seed, will host Valley Fayette (12-7) in Thursday’s other regional title game.
The two regional winners will advance to the upcoming state tournament March 6-9 at the Charleston Civic Center.
Man’s game with Tug Valley was the tale of two halves.
In the first half, the Lady Billies gave Tug Valley all they wanted and more as Man held a 22-18 halftime lead.
The second half was all Lady Panthers, however, as Tug Valley outscored Man 40-15, turning the game into a rout.
Man was led in scoring by Summer Sword, who tossed in 12 points. Taylor Whited had 10 and Mika McCoy seven, while Morgan Conn and Jennifer Shull had four points each.
Adreana Vance produced a game-high 20 points for Tug Valley. Amber Linville had 13 and Whitney Evans-Kirk 11, while Emily Baisden had six. Hannah Armstrong and Cassie Griffith had four each and Kate Robinson had two.
Up three points at the end of the first quarter, Man built its lead at 19-12 with 6:04 to go in the second stanza after a layup by Conn.
Vance then scored on a fast break layup and added one of two free throws to cut the Man lead to 19-15 with 4:02 to play.
Sword then hit a free throw to make it 20-15.
Linville then scored on an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 20-18 with 1:35 to go.
McCoy scored the final points of the half with a floater in the lane with 24 ticks left as the Lady Billies took a 22-18 edge into the locker room.
Tug Valley bounced back in the second half.
Evans-Kirk scored on a layup off the glass to cut the deficit to 22-20.
Sword answered with a jumper inside the paint and McCoy followed with two free throws to make it 26-20.
The Lady Panthers then went on a 7-0 run to take the lead at 27-26 at the 4:08 mark on baskets by Armstrong and Vance.
Tug Valley would then go on a 10-0 run in the final three minutes of the third quarter to take a 37-28 lead heading into the final eight minutes of play. TV ended up outscoring Man 19-6 in the third.
In the fourth quarter, Tug Valley pushed its lead to 42-30 on a free throw by Vance.
Man didn’t quit as it battled back to go on a 6-0 run after baskets by Whited and Conn and two foul shots by McCoy to cut the deficit to six points at 42-36 with 2:54 to play.
The Lady Panthers then pulled away in the final two and half minutes of play outscoring MHS 16-1 and hitting their free throws down the stretch going 11-for-15 at the line to come away with the 58-37 win.