Mountain Lions fall short in semifinals

CHARLESTON – Tucker County got the defensive effort it needed against top-seeded Tug Valley on Friday afternoon.

Unfortunately the offense never got on track as the fourth-seed Mountain Lions dropped a 54-41 decision to the Panthers in a Class A semifinal contest played in front of a crowd of 7,181 at the Civic Center.

Tug Valley, which captured the Class AA title last season, will face Charleston Catholic at noon today. The Irish, who defeated Wheeling Central in Friday’s other semifinal, won the Class A banner last year.

“We played the game we wanted to play,” Tucker County coach Tom Gutshall said. “We took them out of what they wanted to do.”

The Mountain Lions held the Panthers to their second-lowest scoring output of the season.

Tucker County trailed just 23-20 at the intermission and 25-23 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter.

But Tug Valley went on a 12-2 surge en route to building a 37-30 cushion after three quarters.

The lead grew to 13 early in the fourth quarter before the Mountain Lions made a run to get within single digits late in the canto. They came no closer than eight points, however.

“They knew they were in a game,” Gutshall said. “We just missed some shots at crucial times when we had a chance to take the lead.”

Junior Ian Nichols led Tucker County with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Point guard Tyler Snyder chipped in with nine points, six assists and three steals in his final game in a Mountain Lion uniform.

“It was incredibly physical game,” Nichols said. “I let them get a few offensive rebounds early, so I was just trying to get as many of them back as I could.”

Thomas Baisden led the Panthers (24-3) with 18 points, followed by Mikey Newsome with 16.

“It was a typical semifinal Friday game,” Tug Valley coach Garland Thompson said. “We battled and clawed our way to victory.

“I give (Tucker County) a lot of credit. They fought us tooth and nail, not wanting to give anything.”

Tucker County finishes the season 21-4.