NAUGATUCK – The Tug Valley High School boys’ basketball team defeated Midland Trail 77-54 on Wednesday night at home to secure a berth in this week’s Class A state tourney.
The Panthers took a 25-point lead and cruised in the regional co-championship game.
Tug Valley (19-3) is the No. 3 seed and are scheduled to square off with No. 6 seed Tucker County (19-4) on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in the first round of the Class A state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.
The Panthers used a full court press in the first minutes of the game set the Patriots on their heels. Tug Valley scraped up just about every loose ball and bad pass, making Midland Trail pay for its mistakes.
Tug Valley started the game on a 13-0 run, thanks to big 3-pointers by Calvin Blankenship and Tyler May. Midland Trail made numerous fundamental errors due to Tug’s furious press. Bad passes fueled the fire and the Panthers ended the first period ahead 26-10.
Colby Savage started off the second period with a bang as he scored the first two points of the stanza after getting a dish from Corbin Oliver and then scored on the Panthers’ next trip down the floor on a beautiful fade-away jumper from 6-feet out.
Garret Brown created some excitement when he swatted a Midland Trail shot off the wall. The Patriots also missed many foul shots and that didn’t help matters for the visitors.
Tug Valley won the second period, taking a 46-21 lead at the half and gained complete control of the game.
The Patriots had possession of the ball to start the second half.
Matt Skaggs took over for Midland Trail and scored five quick points before the Panthers took back control.
Tug Valley worked its score up to 54 points by the 4:45 mark and Midland Trail’s coach, Curtis Miller, was called for a technical after expressing his dissatisfaction for the officials. Jeremy Dillon went 1 for 2 from the foul line to put the Panthers score at 55.
Tug Valley continued to rain down points after the technical by going on a 9-2 run.
With just over a minute to play in the third period the Patriots started to show signs of life by finishing the quarter on a 7-0 run.
By the fourth minute of the fourth period, the Panthers’ bench players checked in with Tug leading 70-42.
Phillip Lucas ignited the crowd in the last four minutes by scoring three points before the time ran out.
The Panthers watched the clock tick away and now the road to the state championship will begin this week.
May led Tug with 16 points. Dillon netted 14 and Savage 10. Calvin Blankenship and Chandler Runyon tossed in nine each. Johnathan Blankenship had six, Oliver four and Lucas three. Brady Spaulding and Brett Ooten had two points apiece.
Skaggs led Midland Trail with 15 points. Noah Miner had 11 and Steve Blume 10.
Class A Boys’ Basketball
State Tournament Schedule
Thursday, March 17
Game 1: No. 3 Tug Valley (19-3) vs. No. 6 Tucker County (19-4), 9:30 a.m.
Game 2: No. 2 Wheeling Central (22-2) vs. No. 7 Parkersburg Catholic (15-11), 1 p.m.
Game 3: No. 1 Magnolia (20-2) vs. No. 8 Fayetteville (19-2), 5:30 p.m.
Game 4: No. 4 Notre Dame (17-3) vs. No. 5 St. Joseph Central (19-6), 9 p.m.
Friday, March 18
Semifinal: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 11:15 a.m.
Semifinal: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7:15 p.m.
Saturday, March 19
Class A boys basketball state championship, 2:30 p.m.