PHOTO | Boothe Davis: Captured by the Moment Photography
Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports
LOGAN, WVa Man coach TJ Blevins didn’t plan on practicing for nearly two hours Friday, but with the way his team was shooting in practice, kept them a little longer than he usually would the day before a game.
“Like I said Thursday night, I told you I was going to come back Friday and get in a good practice, the boys really got a good practice in,” Blevins said. “I kept them a little bit longer than what I should have, but those guys were stroking so good that I kept them for about two hours.”
The decision to keep his team a little longer paid off as Man knocked down seven 3-pointers in the opening half and held Tug Valley to just four field goals on 25 attempts as the Hillbillies jumped out to a 35-14 halftime lead.
“I envisioned that we were going to have a big first half, go up on them, and hold them to a low score,” Blevins said. “Sure, enough we did that, and you hold a Tug team to 14 points at half you know your defense is cooking.”
Aden Martin and Trey Brown combined to score 49 points as Man defeated Tug Valley 78-52 to capture the Class A Region 4 Section 1 championship Saturday night at Willie Akers Arena.
The win gave Man its first sectional championship since the 2004-05 season and guarantees the Hillbillies a home game in Wednesday’s Class A Region 4 co-finals for the first time in school history.
“I told the kids how long it has been, and I don’t think these kids have really let it settle in,” Blevins said. “I didn’t know that we had never hosted a regional, but we are going to continue to do what we are doing, and that is rewriting the books.”
The victory was also the third of the season over Tug Valley. The Hillbillies defeated the Panthers, 64-59, on Jan. 31 at Tug Valley High School and again, 46-40, on Feb. 15 at Man Memorial Fieldhouse.
“I heard all week that beating a team three times in one season is hard to do,” Blevins said. “The two times we played them I wasn’t satisfied with how we played, but I knew tonight that we were going to come out and respond with a bigger answer.”
Martin led the Hillbillies with a game-high 25 points on 9 of 14 shooting from the field while Brown scored 24 on 9 of 15 shooting from the field. Martin and Brown combined to make nine of Man’s 12 3-pointers with Brown knocking down 6 of 10 attempts and Martin 3 of 5 from deep. Caleb Blevins added 17 for the second-ranked Hillbillies.
“Any given night it is one of them, Aden has been so consistent for us, and I was tickled to death to see Trey get out of his nine-point slump,” Blevins said. “He told me he (Trey) was a little bit nervous, but if he can like that nervous, then I am tickled to death.”
Joey Gollihue put Tug Valley up 2-0 with 6:39 to play in the opening quarter as the Panthers held Man scoreless for the first 2:06. It would be the only Tug Valley lead of the contest as Man reeled off 18 of the next 20 points to lead the Panthers 18-4 after one quarter.
Man was able to contain Gollihue and Ethan Colegrove as they combined to shoot 13 of 38 from the field, with most of their field goals coming in the second half. Gollihue led Tug Valley with 18 points while Colegrove added 15.
Gollihue was 7 for 23 from the field and 4 for 12 from 3-point range.
“I thought we contested him for the most part,” Blevins said. “He did get hot at the end.”
Colegrove finished 6 of 15 from the field and was held without a field goal in the first half. His first field goal came with 3:29 to play in the third quarter off a Gollihue missed jumper.
“We know he likes to roam the middle a lot and I told Jeremiah (Harless) if he could front him fine,” Blevins said. “But if he can’t then just keep a knee around him and give him a little nudge here and there to keep him away from the block and he started to eat us up on some offensive boards and putbacks,”
“We told them that he goes right a lot when he gets the ball on the block, and he turns and spins to his left and finishes with his right,” Blevins said. “We kept trying to get the guy to guard him on his left making him put the ball in his left, but we couldn’t get it to go.”
Using a full court press, Tug Valley cut a 26-point second half deficit to 18 points, 62-44, with just 4:24 to play on Gollihue’s fourth 3-pointer of the second half, but the Hillbillies were able to take care of the basketball breaking Tug Valley’s press and scoring countless baskets at the rim.
“I am going to have to work a little bit on our press breaker,” Blevins said. “I thought we had it figured out, but we struggled a little bit, turned the ball over a few times, but when we broke it, we scored easily.”
While one streak, 17 consecutive wins, continued for Man (21-2) another streak ended as Jeremiah Harless had his 15-game double-double streak come to close.
Harless finished with eight boards and 12 rebounds, however, Harless did record double digit rebounds for the 16th consecutive game. He also blocked five shots, had three assists and one steal in the contest.
“He missed by two points, but he still played like a man,” Blevins said.
Man assisted on 18 of 27 baskets led by Jordan Adams with a game-high nine assists.
“I told Jordan Adams he became a man tonight and that he controlled the game tonight,” Blevins said. “On the offensive end with the points skills, he made the right passes, and became a man.”
Despite the loss, ninth-ranked Tug Valley (12-11) will travel to Huntington High School to face fourth-ranked Huntington St. Joe’s in the other Class A Region 4 co-final with a chance to advance to next week’s state tournament with a win.
The Panthers and Irish have split a pair of games this season with each winning on their home floor. Tug Valley 76-73 on Dec. 14 at Tug Valley while the Irish won 60-59 on Feb. 9 at Huntington St. Joe’s.
“I told the Tug guys that if they take business that we could possibly have a round four in Charleston,” Blevins said.
Man, the reigning Class A champion, will have an opportunity to advance to consecutive state tournaments for just the second time in school history with a win over Gilmer County Wednesday night.
The Hillbillies advance to the Class AA quarterfinals in 1996-97 and the following season made it to the Class AA semifinals in 1997-98.
Blevins doesn’t know much about Gilmer County, who is 7-16 on the year, but he said he will make some calls and gather as much information on them as he can before Wednesday.
“We are going to do a lot of research on them starting tomorrow,” Blevins said. “I will get a hold of St. Joe’s and see if they will send me their film and get some pointers from them.”
At Willie Akers Arena
Class A Region 4 Section 1 Championship
Man 78, Tug Valley 52
Tug Valley (12-11)
Joey Gollihue 7-23 0-0 18, Ethan Colegrove 6-15 3-8 15, Ashton Davis 3-9 2-2 9, Kaden Hale 3-10 0-0 9, Buddy Marcum 0-2 0-0 0, Bryson Muncy 0-2 0-0 0, Brady Brewer 0-5 0-0 0, Paul Preece 0-2 0-0 0, Brennan Pack 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 19-70 5-10 52.
Aden Martin 9-14 4-5 25, Trey Brown 9-15 0-0 24, Caleb Blevins 6-19 2-3 17, Jeremiah Harless 2-4 4-6 8, Jordan Adams 1-3 0-0 2, Andrew Cozart 0-0 1-2 1, Colton Miller 0-0 1-2 1, James Scites 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 27-56 12-18 78.
Tug Valley 4 10 20 18- 52
Man 18 17 21 22- 78
3-point field goals- Tug Valley 9-35 (Gollihue 4-12, Davis 2-7, Hale 3-8, Muncy 0-1, Brewer 0-5, Pack 0-2), Man 12-29 (Martin 3-5, Brown 6-10, Blevins 3-12, Adams 0-2). Rebounds- Tug Valley 42 (Colegrove 16), Man 36 (Harless 12). Assists- Tug Valley 13 (Gollihue 3, Davis 3), Man 18 (Adams 9). Total fouls- Tug Valley 15, Man 14. Fouled out- None. Technicals- None.