Class A state championship: Tug wins second consecutive crown
Tug Valley wasn't the first team to win back-to-back state titles in different classes before the tip-off of Saturday's Class A championship game against Charleston Catholic.
When the game was over, it was evident why the Panthers were the first ones to accomplish the feat.
Aaron Muncy scored 21 points and had seven of Tug Valley's rebounds in a 58-41 victory over the Irish (24-4) in the first-ever Class A State Tournament battle of defending state champions.
Tug Valley (25-3) won the Class AA crown last year, while Catholic claimed the Class A crown.
Tug Valley Coach Garland Thompson said Muncy's total "was probably a career high," and when he cooled down, senior Mikey Newsome had 10 points, senior Austin Brewer had 15 and Thomas Baisden added eight. No bench players on either team scored, surprisingly, and Catholic's bench had just five rebounds, and Tug had only three.
The Panthers outrebounded Catholic 32-20, but it was still a game in the second quarter when Catholic point guard Garret McCarty picked up his second foul and went the bench.
Tug Valley wanted to increase the pressure and extend a six-point lead, but the Irish took the air out of the ball to try to keep it close while its most important guard sat on the bench.
"We had talked yesterday, today that basketball's a game of spurts," Catholic Coach Bill McClanahan said. "The difference is we had to make sure those spurts were 3, 4, 5 not 9, 10, 11. When the lead ballooned, that sapped us a little bit. That's what happened."
Baisden led the rebounding charge for Tug with 12 boards, but the Panthers couldn't pull away until the second half.
"That was it, once he went out, I thought maybe we can hit them with a dagger right here," Thompson said. "I think that's why they held it the last minute of the game. We did miss the shot and got an offensive look right there. I thought they did a good job with McCarty."
The title game opponents dominated the All-Tournament team. Tug Valley had Newsome, Brewer and Muncy, while the Irish had Nick George, David Godwin and Zach Casto.
George finished with 13 points and five rebounds, Casto had two points while battling foul trouble and Godwin had seven points while playing all but one minute of the game.
Charleston Catholic was sharp early, but cooled down late. The Irish trailed by one after the first quarter during which it scored 18 points. However, Catholic didn't reach 36 until the fourth period.
"I thought first 8-10 minutes, we played as high a level as we could have," McClanahan said. "We were as efficient and smart and well-prepared as we could've been. When we leveled back off, Tug doesn't allow that leveling."
The Tug Valley title marked the first time 2001 that a public school has won the state's small school championship.
That year, two public schools that no longer exist - Williamson and Oceana - played for the Class A championship. The Wolfpack earned a 59-49 win. Since that year, Wheeling Central (6), Charleston Catholic (3), Parkersburg Catholic (1) and Madonna (1) had the Class A championship wrapped up for the private school contingent.
In 2002, Oceana and Baileysville consolidated to former Westside, and, in 2011, Mingo Central joined Burch Matewan and Gilbert in consolidation to form Mingo Central.