South Charleston, which made it to the semifinals before losing to Woodrow, can only hope it keeps making the ascent.
The Black Eagles had lost in the first round of the state tournament the past two years, but got by Morgantown in quarterfinals and challenged the MSAC champion Flying Eagles one night later, losing 64-57.
SC's seniors end their careers on an uptick, going 19-7 as freshmen, 20-6 as sophomores, 21-5 as juniors and 24-3 this season.
"Our seniors won close to 90 games in four years,'' said Black Eagles coach Vic Herbert. "I can't say how proud I am of them and what they've accomplished the last three, four years. It's kind of remarkable, to tell you the truth.
"These seniors came in when I did, so they're special to me. A lot of coaches say that, but I truly mean it. These guys are important to me and I'm going to follow them through their lives as long as I live, and do as much as I can do for them.''
The Class AA field got an infusion of new talent when four Big 10 Conference schools blitzed their way to town, with three of them advancing to the semifinal round.
Runner-up Fairmont Senior, semifinalists Robert C. Byrd and Bridgeport and quarterfinalist North Marion were all schools that dropped down from Class AAA following last season.
Well, the rest of the division had better get used to it, since they're not going anywhere. The new enrollment figures remain in place for at least three more years.
Tolsia coach Jason Hatfield, who took his team to the AA semifinals last year and lost to RCB in the first round this year, noticed the difference in styles.
"They're pretty good defensively,'' Hatfield said, "and certainly their pressure defense and the way they play in spurts. Their games are games of runs.
"Coming down from triple-A, that's the kind of stuff and the style they play. They like to pressure. If you watch triple-A games, they like to use pressure defense and that's something we're not used to. We knew it was coming and tried to simulate it in practice, but there's not much you can do to simulate that. We didn't shoot the basketball well, but that's in large part to their defense.''
About the only thing Tug Valley didn't do in sweeping to the Class A crown was shoot free throws (the Panthers were 31 of 53, 58.5 percent).
But that was about the only hiccup along the way as they won three games by average of 18-plus points to earn a second straight title, beating Charleston Catholic 58-41 in the finals. It was the eighth title-game appearance for the Irish in the last nine years.
Tug took the AA championship last year against Bluefield, which recovered to win in double-A on Saturday.
Panthers coach Garland "Rabbit'' Thompson enjoyed adding to the rich legacy of Mingo County basketball.
It marked the third title for Tug, which opened in 1987, and was the 16th in all for the county - Williamson had six, Burch four, Kermit two and Lenore one. Williamson and Burch were part of the recent Mingo Central consolidation and Kermit and Lenore went into the Tug Valley merger.
"They call Beckley the City of Champions,'' Thompson said, "but I'll bet Mingo County is right there close to them [Woodrow and Mingo are now tied at 16 titles each]. Anybody who's been to the state tournament has heard of Mingo County.
"The 100 years is special. We went to that [SSAC banquet] Tuesday and they showed pictures of all the state champions, and it is very special. They said there have been more state tournaments than there are NCAA tournaments. Hopefully when we're all gone in the next 100 years, somebody will be sitting up here and maybe they'll mention Tug Valley.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.