CHARLESTON- Tucker County coach Tom Gutshall has been impressed by Tug Valley from afar this season.
Now the fourth-seed Mountain Lions (21-3) and their veteran mentor will get a shot at the top-seed in the Class A tournament at 1 p.m. today in a semifinal matchup at the Civic Center. The winner will face either Charleston Catholic or Wheeling Central at noon Saturday in the championship game.
"They have players that play the game of basketball the right way," Gutshall said of the Panthers, who advanced by defeating Notre Dame. "The three guards they have are as good as anybody in the state. We're really going to have to defend them well to have a chance."
Seniors Mikey Newsome, Austin Brewer and Aaron Muncy make up the dangerous trio of backcourt players employed by Tug Valley (23-3). Newsome is averaging 23.2 points per game, while Brewer and Muncy hit for 20.8 and 12.1, respectively. Junior forward Thomas Baisden (15.3) also averages in double figures.
The Mountain Lions will counter with senior point guard Tyler Snyder, who fired in 22 points in a semifinal victory over Greater Beckley Christian, junior forward Ian Nichols and junior guard Austin Zirk. Nichols had 20 points and 10 rebounds in Wednesday's win, while Zirk fired in four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points. Sophomore Mikhail Lewis and senior guard Nathaniel Goldstein round out the probable starting lineup.