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Pendleton advances to state title game

Alt’s putback off missed free throw the difference in 38-35 victory over Tug Valley in Class A semis

CHARLESTON — Pendleton County didn’t get the chance to compete for a state championship last season due to COVID-19.

A little less than 14 months later, that opportunity will come on Saturday after the third-seeded Wildcats advanced to the Class A title game with a hard-fought and dramatic 38-35 victory over second-seed Tug Valley Thursday afternoon in semifinal action at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center.

Senior Josh Alt’s putback off a missed free throw with 17 seconds left in regulation was the difference as Pendleton County will play in the state title game for the first time in school history.

The Wildcats, who are now 17-0 and winners of 40 straight games, will face top-seed Man at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The Hillbillies defeated Webster County, 81-54, in Thursday evening’s other semifinal.

In a low scoring and tightly played contest, Pendleton County led 24-22 after three quarters and 35-30 after Bailey Thompson’s jumper with 2:46 remaining in regulation.

The Panthers (13-3) answered with a 7-0 run to take a two-point edge as Caleb May, who had a game-high 20 points on the day, scored five straight points and Ian Reed added a basket in the lane.

After being fouled with 19 ticks left, senior Isaiah Gardiner, who quarterbacked the school’s football team to the state semifinals this past season, hit his first attempt to cut the lead to 36-35. His second attempt was off the the mark but the 6-foot-3 Alt retrieved the rebound and scored for the go-ahead basket.

After Tug Valley misfired on a 3-point attempt, Thompson tacked on two free throws with 1.1 seconds left.

Thompson had 15 points and Alt finished with 12 points1 and 11 rebounds for Pendleton County, which formed in 1998 when Franklin and Circleville high schools consolidated.

Pendleton County (17-0)

Bailey Thompson 5 5-6 15, Isaiah Gardiner 2 3-6 7, Taylor Wimer 0 2-2 2, Josh Alt 5 2-3 12, Cole Day 1 0-0 2, Tanner Townsend 0 0-0 0, Clayton Kisamore 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 12-17 38

Tug Valley (13-3)

Caleb May 8 2-2 20, Ian Reed 2 0-0 4, Easton Davis 2 0-0 4, Ethan Colegrove 3 1-2 7, Justin Hall 0 0-0 0, Joby Sorrell 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 3-4 35

Pendleton County 10 7 7 14 — 38

Tug Valley 10 6 6 13 — 35

3-point goals: TV 2 (May 2)

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