CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It was supposed to be a showdown - No. 1 vs. No. 2. The best of the best in Class A. Perhaps a preview of what's to come next month at the state tournament.
Tug Valley would have none of it.
The steady senior tandem of Mikey Newsome and Austin Brewer combined for 41 points Wednesday afternoon as the Panthers thumped Charleston Catholic 61-38 at the Civic Center, the keynote game of the "Shootout at the Big House.''
Newsome knocked down 7 of 8 shots in one stretch and finished with 23 points for top-ranked Tug (16-3), and Brewer tallied 18 points with eight rebounds.
The Panthers also cracked down defensively on the No. 2 Irish (16-3), holding them to 30 percent shooting and helping force 15 turnovers.
It marked the lowest point total for the Irish in three years and represented their worst loss since a 64-37 setback at Parkersburg Catholic on Dec. 26, 2009.
"We came up with the mindset of getting down and playing defense,'' Newsome said. "We didn't care how many points we scored. We wanted to shut them down defensively. We knew [Garret] McCarty was good. We knew [Nick] George was good. We just wanted to slow them down a little bit.''
George and McCarty, the top two scorers for the Irish, went just 6 of 22 shooting, with George scoring 10 points and McCarty seven. McCarty did donate seven steals, however and Zach Casto grabbed 11 rebounds.
Tug Valley also led off the boards 32-26 with Thomas Baisden nearly pulling off a minimum double-double (nine points, nine rebounds).
"They got up in our grill,'' said Catholic assistant Fred McPherson, who again took over coaching duties with Matt Morrison due to the absence of head coach Bill McClanahan, who missed his third game in a week because of his job.
"That's as good a defensive ballclub as we're going to see all year long. They shut our drives down. They knew everything we were going to do, and they played very, very physical.''