CHARLESTON, W.Va. - With 6:13 left in the third quarter and his team trailing top-seeded Class A Tug Valley by one, Tucker County senior guard went to the foul line with a chance to give his team its first lead of the teams' semifinal.
Snyder, who had 22 points in the Mountain Lions' win over Greater Beckley Christian in the quarterfinals, missed both attempts.
With an unexpected opportunity to get up off the mat, Tug responded, scored nine of the game's next 10 points and ran away with a 54-41 win at the Charleston Civic Center that put the Panthers (24-3) into the championship game at noon today. They will face No. 3 seed Charleston Catholic (24-3).
Though the game featured two of the state's premier point guards in Snyder and his Tug Valley counterpart Austin Brewer, the game developed into a physical showdown between Tucker forward Ian Nichols and Tug forward Thomas Baisden.
In fact, it was when Baisden went to the bench with his second foul with 4:29 left in the first half that Tucker began to fight its way back into the game after falling behind 16-7 by the end of the first quarter. Nichols, who led all players with 26 points and 14 rebounds, had five consecutive points in the paint and a tip-in by Tug's Corey Dillon was the only thing that kept the 2012 Class AA champions from a one-point game going to the half.
When Snyder failed to convert, is served as the wake-up call. After the brief but conclusive run, Tucker never any closer than seven points from the lead.
Baisden led Tug with 18 points and six rebounds while senior guard Mikey Newsome added 16 points. Brewer, who had an off game shooting in hitting just 2-of-10 shots from the floor, finished with six points, six rebounds and four assists.
Tug, which dropped to Class A this year with the new classifications from the Secondary School Activities Commission, will take on the defending Class A state champ in Charleston Catholic. The teams met at the Civic Center on Feb. 13, with Tug Valley winning 61-38. Irish coach Bill McClanahan was out of the area for work that day, and did not attend the game.