Bluefield vs. Tug Valley
Tug Valley (58) Vs. Bluefield (52)
Mar 17, 2012
By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
CHARLESTON — The state champions from Tug Valley entertained the audience at the Charleston Civic Center on Saturday afternoon.
And, that was the just the Panthers’ cheerleaders at halftime.
The basketball team added a state title of their own, as Tug Valley built an early lead and never trailed in capturing the Class AA boys state championship with a 58-52 win over Bluefield.
Bluefield, which finished the season at 26-2, dropped to 2-4 in state title games, including a loss to Tug Valley in the Panthers’ only other state championship in 1999.
“Obviously it means a lot to us,” said Tug Valley junior Mikey Newsome, whose Panthers will drop to Class A next season. “I think it means a lot to our community, it’s been 13 years since we have won one.”
Tug Valley (26-2) went up 15-2 after the first quarter, and the Bluefield played catch-up from there, twice trimming the lead to one, but could never get the lead.
“Congratulations to Tug Valley, they have an outstanding basketball program, they have been very consistent all year,” Bluefield head coach Buster Large said. “We just dug ourselves a hole early that we just couldn’t get out of.
“We came back several times, we had opportunities, but we don’t make excuses. We had a great season, I know they are the state champions, but as far as I am concerned we are all winners in here today.”
Newsome led Tug Valley with 17 points, including two 3s and 12 points in the final quarter. Six-foot-9 Mason Pack added 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Austin Brewer contributed 14 points, seven boards and four of the Panthers’ 11 steals. Richman Vance added four points, nine boards and two blocked shots.
“I am tickled to death for these kids,” Tug Valley head coach Garland Thompson said. “That was a great basketball game. You have got to give Bluefield credit first, they played that little zone, and it gave us fits and problems. We had enough in the tank at the end...”
Bluefield was paced by Anthony Eades, who had 24 points, including 22 of the Beavers’ 34 points in the second half. He had all 14 of Bluefield’s points in third quarter after making just 1-8 from the field in the first half.
Lykel Collier added 14 points, five assists and five steals for Bluefield, while K.J. Manns contributed 12 points and seven boards. D.J. Edwards had the other two points, along with five boards, for the Beavers. Harley Trimble pulled down seven rebounds in the loss.
“I had to dig down deep and get it going some how to bring us back,” Eades said. “My teammates were there with me, the whole team, we were fighting. Lykel was able to give me the ball, along with the whole team, and we made it happen.”
Bluefield, which has made a habit of quick starts all season, was 0-9 field in the first quarter, including an air ball and two shots that hit only the backboard among their first five attempts. They also had four turnovers, with Collier finally putting Bluefield on the board with a pair of free throws with 2:56 on the clock.
By then the Panthers were up 10-0, and that lead increased to a game-high 13.
“In a game like this you can’t dig yourself a hole and we did, but it wasn’t throwing the ball away,” Large said. “We just couldn’t get a shot early, anytime you score two points in the first quarter it makes it tough on anybody to come back.”
K.J. Manns was able to snap an 0-10 drought with an offensive putback at the 7:17 mark. Manns led the Beavers at the break with eight points, including six during a 12-0 run capped off by an Eades runner in the lane that narrowed the Tug Valley lead to 17-16 with 2:58 on the clock.
Tug Valley, which had six of its seven first half turnovers in the second period, scored eight of the final 10 points of the quarter and took a 25-18 lead into the break, with Pack having scored nine points for the Panthers.
“They didn’t score a field goal until the second quarter, and we needed every one of those points,” Thompson said. “That gave us a lot of confidence. I think we maintained the lead throughout the game, but they battled back. We were fortunate enough to have enough in the tank right there at the end.”
Bluefield made just 27.8 percent (5-18) of their shot attempts in the opening half, and 33.3 (14-42) for the game, including three 3s compared to four for the Panthers. Tug Valley connected on 44.7 (21-47) percent from the field. The Beavers were 22-27 from the free throw line, while Tug Valley was 12-18.
“I think by halftime we had five field goals, but you have got to give them credit, they were doing something right,” Large said. “We never had the lead all day, we came close, but never had it.,
“We sure didn’t know how it would have been like with the lead.”
Eades took control after the break, outscoring the Panthers himself 14-12 in the third period, and added the Beavers’ first four points in the final quarter. He was 6-17 from the field, hit two 3s and made all 10 of his free throw attempts.
“We were worried about Eades, he was coming off screens and coming through the middle, we had all three of them...chasing him,” Thompson said. “You have got to give that kid some credit.
“He is just a sophomore, beware double A next year. Every time that ball left his hand I said there is another 3.”
It was an Eades basket in the lane that pulled the Beavers to within one, 33-32, for the first time since it was 17-16, but Brewer drove the baseline for a basket and Pack added a shot in the lane to pull the Panthers ahead 37-32 going into the final period.
The Panthers outscored Bluefield 32-12 in the paint, and led 8-6 in fast break points, the latter statistic normally owned by the Beavers.
“We just went too long without a bucket,” Large said. “We found ways to get back in it, our press created problems, it has created problems all year long. We just didn’t get some things at times and we just fell a little short with a few things...”
It was Newsome who built the Tug Valley lead to eight with a 3. He would finish with 12 in the quarter, including another 3 with 3:44 left to widen a five-point lead back to eight. The Panthers were able to outrebound the Beavers 31-29 by crashing the offensive glass, and they also seemed to find every loose ball.
“I wasn’t real pleased with that, but that is the way it goes,” Large said. “We said we had to get every loose ball, we had to get every rebound, we knew Tug Valley had five guys that are at least 6-5, it’s not easy being inside, but they found a way to win.
“Anytime you have second opportunities and third opportunities it just gives them a chance to score.”
Bluefield did narrow the gap to five points three times in the final quarter, but Newsome’s 3 increased the lead to eight, Pack answered a basket by Manns with a layup and the Panthers were 6-8 on free throws in the final 56.4 seconds to secure the win.
“These guys have battled all year long, I am so proud of them,” Large said. “You might lose, but as far as myself and the coaching staff and Bluefield High School program is concerned, they can walk out of here very, very proud today. They have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Tug Valley also appeared to have the advantage in terms of fan support, with the Panthers joking that the flood-affected community had taken the ‘fan boat’ to witness their victory.
“We knew we were going to win,” Brewer said. “We weren’t going to let our fans and our community down and most importantly, don’t let ourselves down. We just came out and played as hard as we could and won us a championship.”
“These kids wanted it, they have fought for it all year, this was our goal,” added Thompson. “I don’t know if everybody believed it, but thank the Lord up above, the ones in our locker room believed it and that is all that really matters.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Charleston Civic Center
TUG VALLEY (26-2)
Pack 6-10 3-4 15, Vance 2-5 0-0 4, Muncy 1-3 0-0 3, Newsome 5-14 4-6 17, Brewer 5-11 4-6 14, Sturgell 0-0 0-0 0, White 2-4 1-2 5. Totals 21-47 12-18 58.
Manns 4-6 4-8 12, Eades 6-17 10-10 24, Collier 3-12 8-9 14, Trimble 0-2 0-0 0, Yost 0-2 0-0 0, Edwards 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 14-42 22-27 52.
Tug Valley...............15 10 12 21 — 58
Bluefield .................2 16 14 20 — 52
3-Point Goals—Tug Valley 4-13 (Newsome 3-11, Muncy 1-1, Pack 0-1), Bluefield 2-11 (Eades 2-6, Yost 0-2, Collier 0-3). Fouled out—Vance, Muncy. Rebounds—Tug Valley 31 (Pack 10), Bluefield 29 (Manns, Trimble 7). Assists—Tug Valley 13 (Brewer 7), Bluefield 6 (Collier 5). Total Fouls—Tug Valley 18, Bluefield 17. A—na.