Tug Valley whips Huntington High
HUNTINGTON -- After a near 30-point win on the road against Princeton last week, coach Ron Hess thought his Huntington High boys' basketball team was coming together nicely as the playoffs loom on the horizon.
Now Hess isn't sure what to think after his Class AAA No. 9 Highlanders (14-6) were blown out of their own gym Tuesday night by Class A No. 1 Tug Valley, 69-55.
"They just came out and kicked our butts tonight. We weren't ready to play and they kicked our butts," Hess said. "It's troubling anytime you get beat like that, but here we are at the end of the year and you think that you're peaking, we've got to get back in here tomorrow and get back to work."
Hess said he was surprised by his team, and called the effort "probably the worst game we've played all year."
On the other side you had Tug Valley, an 19-3 team that won the Class AA state title last season before being dropped down to Class A. The Panthers came out guns blazing, jumping to a 23-9 lead over the Highlanders by the end of the first quarter.
"I think our ability to get out quick on them really set the tone for us," said Tug Valley coach Garland Thompson. "Of course, it always looks like you're playing good basketball when you're making shots. I'll have to look at the tape to see how we actually did."
In truth Huntington High was never in the game. A mass of turnovers led to a lot of breakouts for the Panthers, and Tug Valley was pretty much able to do whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted.
"We have three great guards in Mikey Newsome, Austin Brewer and Aaron Muncy," Thompson said. "And I know Austin had 13 assists. We were able to get those passes down low to (Thomas) Baisden and (Corey) Dillon for easy shots."
Newsome led the Panthers in scoring with 17.
Tug Valley also had a unique advantage in that their fans outnumbered Huntington High's about 2-1, if not more, giving the Panthers a home game atmosphere 90 minutes from their own floor.
"That's probably one of the better traveling crowds in Class A," Thompson said. "They travel the hour-and-a-half up here and they like to see good basketball so we try to give it to them, at least until that last four minutes."
Thompson was referring to the 3:45 mark in the fourth quarter specifically, when he put the junior varsity in. Up to that point, the Panthers had built a 29-point lead.
Anthony Meadows came off the bench to lead the Highlanders in that final stretch, scoring seven of his 12 fourth-quarter points to help cut into the final deficit.
The Highlanders' main offensive weapon, Arick Nicks, again struggled with foul trouble, picking up three in the first half, which limited his productiveness. Nicks scored 10 and didn't get help from Shaquan Miller or Chancelor Wooding, who have typically picked up the slack when Nicks is out of the lineup. Miller had 5 points and Wooding had 1.
TUG VALLEY 23 18 12 16 -- 69: Newsome 17, Dillon 13, Baiden 12, Brewer 8, Sturgill 8, Muncy 7, S. Marcum 2, Copley 2.
HUNTINGTON HIGH 9 10 10 24 -- 55: Meadows 12, Nicks 10, Dunn-Martin 6, Tubbs 8, Pennington 7, Miller 5, Howard 4, Demoss 2, Wooding 1.