Class A No. 3 Man did something they haven’t been able to do in 16 years Monday night.
The Hillbillies held off a late fourth quarter rally to defeat the sixth-ranked Panthers 64-59 in battle of Class A ranked teams.
In doing so, the Hillbillies were able to record their first win at Tug Valley High School in 16 years.
The last time Man defeated Tug Valley was January 31, 2006, when they erased an 18-point third quarter deficit for a 64-62 victory over the Panthers.
“Anytime you can go on the road and get a win, especially down here, you’ve done something good,” Man coach TJ Blevins said.
Man led by 13 points after Caleb Blevins layup with 2:38 remaining in the fourth quarter. Trailing 59-48 Tug Valley could have easily quit but the Panthers Kaden Hale kept them in the game with his fourth quarter shooting.
Hale, who is a freshman, was 4-of-7 from the field including 3-of-5 from 3-point range and scored 13 of his team high 15 points in the fourth quarter.
The Hillbillies struggles at the free throw line and unforced errors kept the Panthers in the contest as Man was 6-of-12 from the free throw line in the final 2:38 and committed four of its seven turnovers in the final stanza.
“Hats off to Tug they got some extraordinary freshmen that can knock down shots, and I wasn‘t expecting the (Kaden) Hale kid to do what he done, but that little dude is going to be tough,” Blevins said. “I didn’t like the clock management at the end, we threw some stupid passes and just about shot ourselves in the foot.”
“Free throws are something that we work on like crazy in practice,” Blevins said. “I put my best free throw shooter on the line, and he clanks it off the back iron, but you know nerves I will give him that.”
Man led by as many as seven points in the first quarter before settling for a 14-10 lead after the first quarter.
Tug Valley took its first and only lead of the contest on Ashton Davis’ 3 with 5:42 remaining in the second quarter gave the Panthers a 17-16 lead.
The lead was short lived however as Man’s Jeremiah Harless converted a layup attempt just 17 seconds later to give Man an 18-17 lead with 5:25 to play in the first half.
Harless’ bucket kickstarted a 13-0 Man run that was capped off by Trey Brown’s 3 with 3:25 remaining before halftime.
Tug Valley answered Man’s run with a five-point mini spurt to cut the deficit to 29-22 following Joey Gollihue’s 3 with 2:26 to play, but Man’s Jacob Walls answered with a 3 of his own to put Man back on top by 10 with 1:48 to play.
Brown’s third 3 of the quarter put Man on top 35-24 with 0:09 remaining before halftime and Gollihue’s putback of a Tug Valley missed shot brought the Panthers to within nine, 35-26, at halftime.
Man connected on 14-of-28 field goal attempts in the first half and was 5-of-12 overall from the 3-point and connected on 5-of-8 3-point attempts in the second quarter.
“Give Man all the credit in the world, they came in here and were ready to play,” Tug Valley coach Rabbit Thompson said. “They shot lights out in the first half and their seniors played well.”
Harless scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half as he controlled the paint for the Hillbillies.
“You got to give (Jeremiah) Harless a lot of credit,” Thompson said. “He battled and got a lot of rebounds.”
Tug Valley scored five of the first seven points to start the third quarter and trailed 37-31 after an Ethan Colegrove basket with 5:47 remaining, but Man went on a 9-3 run capped off by Blevins layup with 1:54 remaining in the quarter to take a 46-34 lead.
Tug Valley answered with a Gollihue basket and a 3-pointer from Davis to cut Man’s advantage to 46-39 after three quarters of play.
The five points to end the quarter was the start of a 10-2 run that was capped off by a Hale triple and short jumper to cut the deficit to four at 48-44 with 6:50 to play.
Just as they had before, the Hillbillies answered Tug Valley’s run with an 11-2 run to take its biggest lead of the contest, 59-46, on a basket from Blevins with 2:38 to play.
The Panthers would mount one last charge but could get no closer than the final margin as Brady Brewer’s 3 brought them to within five, 64-59, with 0:17 to play.
“We were about one or two rebounds and stops away from blowing this thing wide open,” Blevins said. “We let them hang around and hang around when we shouldn’t have but credit Tug and their shooters.”
Tug Valley was 11-of-29 from the field in the first half and 3-of-14 from 3-point range. The Panthers connected on 12-of-28 shots from the field in the second half and were 6-of-14 from 3 in the final two quarters but turned the ball over 10 times.
“We hung around a little bit but just couldn’t make that one final run to get back in the game,” Thompson said. “Man made some plays, but we didn’t make enough of them. I am proud of these guys for playing hard and not quitting.”
Hale led Tug Valley with 15 points while Colegrove and Gollihue each had 12 for the Panthers.
It was the first of what could be three possibly four potential meetings between Man and Tug Valley. The Hillbillies will host Tug Valley on Feb. 15 at the Man Memorial Fieldhouse. The two schools could meet for a third time in the Class A Region 4 Section 1 tournament and a fourth meeting could come at the Class A State Tournament in Charleston should both schools advance out of the section and win their respective co-regional championship games.
“Disappointed with the loss, but it’s a long season,” Thompson said. “We are only 10 games in, and we will get better and hopefully come March we will be ready to go.”
Harless posted his sixth consecutive double-double to lead Man with 16 points and 11 rebounds. In his last six games, Harless is averaging 20.8 points and 19.7 rebounds and is averaging nine offensive rebounds per contest in his last six.
“I have begged him since fifth grade, well fourth grade to turn it up and I don’t know what has happened to him in the last five or six games,” Blevins said. “It is like he has hit a light switch and he is probably one of the most dominant post men in single A.”
Harless was one of four Hillbillies in double figures joining Brown with 16 and Aden Martin and Blevins who each had 11 points for Man.
“We have had that about all season,” Blevins said. “Anytime we can get that no matter who you are playing or where you are playing you are going to win.”
For the game, Man was 25-for-54 from the field and was 6-of-19 from 3-point territory. The Hillbillies were just 8-of-15 from the free throw line but committed just seven turnovers.
Tug Valley falls to 7-3 with the loss and will travel to Mingo Central on Tuesday.
“That’s another big rivalry, and we are looking down the crosshairs, and I am sure they would like to get a hold of us,” Thompson said. “We got to go up there and that will be another tough one.”
Man, winners of seven straight, improved to 11-2 and will host Liberty (Raleigh) on Wednesday.
“We will watch some film on them before practice and get ready for them,” Blevins said. “Hopefully we can keep this rolling.”
No. 3 Man 64, No. 6 Tug Valley 59
Man Hillbillies (11-2)
Jeremiah Harless 8-10 0-2 16, Aden Martin 4-8 2-2 11, Jordan Adams 3-5 0-1 7, Trey Brown 4-10 5-7 16, Jacob Walls 1-1 0-0 3, Caleb Blevins 5-20 1-3 11. Totals: 25-54 8-15 64.
Tug Valley Panthers (7-3)
Brady Brewer 3-6 0-0 7, Joey Gollihue 5-6 0-0 12, Johnathan Wagner 0-0 0-0 0, Buddy Marcum 2-3 0-0 4, Ashton Davis 3-9 0-0 9, Ethan Colegrove 5-18 2-7 12, Kaden Hale 5-11 2-2 15. Totals: 23-63 4-9 59.
Man 14 21 11 18-64
Tug 10 16 13 20-59
3-point field goals- Man 6-19 (Harless 0-1, Martin 1-1, Adams 1-2, Brown 3-7, Walls 1-1, Blevins 0-7), Tug Valley 9-28 (Brewer 1-3, Gollihue 2-9, Davis 3-6, Colegrove 0-2, Hale 3-8). Rebounds- Man 27 (Harless 11), Tug Valley 31 (Colegrove 8). Assists- Man 6 (Brown 2), Tug Valley 11 (Davis 6). Total fouls- Man 9, Tug Valley 15.