CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Tug Valley, the defending Class AA state champion, started the Class A state tournament strong behind a stellar defensive performance en route to a sound victory Wednesday night.
The top-seeded Panthers, now competing in Class A, defeated No. 8 seed Notre Dame 87-62 at the Charleston Civic Center to advance to play Tucker County at 1 p.m. Friday.
As has been Tug Valley's calling card, the Panthers (23-3) won with defense.
"We're a pressing basketball team," Tug Valley Coach Garland Thompson said. "If it's not a diamond or a 2-2-1, it's some kind of half-court (press). That's what we do. We try to establish defensive intensity, pressure, constant pressure on the ball."
With an 11-point lead in hand, Thompson switched the Panthers to a 2-2-1 defense to begin the third quarter. The plan worked to perfection as the Fighting Irish (14-9) scored just five points on two field goals in the quarter.
"Coming out in that third quarter, they turned it up defensively," Notre Dame Coach Jarrod West said. "Once a team like that gets rolling, it's hard to fight back."
In total, the Panthers created 42 points off 24 turnovers.
While the defense locked down, Tug Valley's talented senior guards Mikey Newsome and Austin Brewer took control offensively.