CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's been a different kind of season for Tug Valley, but so far the results have been the same.
The Panthers, who captured the Class AA state championship last year, dropped down to Class A this past fall and won't get a chance to defend their title.
As the top seed in Class A, though, Tug Valley (22-3) will have an opportunity to start a new tradition when it takes on No. 8 Notre Dame (14-8) in the quarterfinals of the state tournament at 5:30 p.m. today at the Charleston Civic Center.
"We've talked about it,'' said Tug coach Garland Thompson. "We want to go back to back. That's something that only a handful of teams have ever done. This being the 100th year of [the state tournament], I can't think of nothing better for our kids.''
Tug enters states on a 12-game winning streak, which includes victories over several teams in the state tournament field.
The Panthers have beaten Class A No. 3 Charleston Catholic (61-38 at the Civic Center last month), No. 6 Greater Beckley Christian thrice (74-61, 61-60 and 72-47) and AAA No. 9 Huntington (69-55) while splitting with Class AA No. 3 Westside.
Mikey Newsome, a 5-foot-11 senior guard, triggers the Panthers offense at 17.9 points per game, followed by 6-1 senior guard Austin Brewer (15.3) and 6-2 junior forward Thomas Baisden (12.7). Aaron Muncy, a 5-10 senior guard, adds 7.1 points per game.
"In the tournament, it's survive and advance,'' Thompson said. "I think we're playing pretty good so far. You never know what's going to happen in the tournament. You see kids get stage fright with the bright lights in their eyes.
"I've been here. It doesn't matter whether I've been there or not, it's up to our kids now. What we try to do is create turnovers with our defense and if we can do that, we'll be OK. Our kids are familiar with the floor and the surroundings. That helps.''