KEY LOSSES: Parker Davis, Johnathan Wagoner, Joey Gollihue (Transfer)
KEY RETURNERS: Buddy Marcum, Ashton Davis, Braydun Ferris
The Tug Valley Panthers finished last season with a 23-4 record while reaching the second Class A state semifinals. Even after a few key departures, Tug Valley head coach Garland “Rabbit” Thompson still has quite a bit left to make another state tournament run.
Senior Buddy Marcum will help to anchor the post for the Panthers. Marcum, a 6’4″ athlete who excels both on the football field and basketball court, averaged about 7 points and 5 rebounds per game last season.
Junior Ashton Davis is the leading returning scorer. Davis can play both guard and forward and was one of the Panthers’ top shooters last season, connecting on 41% of his 3-point tries while averaging 13 points and 3 assists per game.
Sophomore Braydun Ferris will run the point. Last season, Ferris averaged about 8 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals per game during a fantastic freshman season. He’s been working on his shot and should see an increased scoring role this season.
Junior Kaden Hale is a good shooter and ball handler who will likely start and play a lot of minutes. Sophomore Carson Newsome runs the floor well and is another good shooter who should see a lot of minutes for Tug Valley. Sophomore Bryson Elia will be expected to make plays and finish well, especially in transition. Junior Brady Brewer is going to see a lot of playing time as well and can play a few different positions.
The Panthers also have a newcomer in senior Cameron Stafford. Last season, Stafford played at Pike County Central, but he should see playing time and be able to hit some shots for Thompson’s squad. Sophomore Jace Hale is very fundamentally sound.
Thompson also has a few freshmen who he thinks can see playing time. Preston May, Cameron Slone and Ben Brumfield could also see varsity minutes this year.
The Panthers face another challenging schedule but have a lot of talent returning. Look for them to make some noise and possibly earn another trip to Charleston.
KEY LOSSES: Haley Gillman, Kristin Fields, Kinna Justice
KEY RETURNERS: Makenzie Browning, Haven Deskins, Bailee Hall
The Tug Valley Lady Panthers saw their season come to an end in the regional round at Gilmer County. This season first-year head coach Seth Ooten takes over after spending 4 seasons as an assistant coach and hopes to take Tug Valley back to Charleston.
The Lady Panthers have their back court returning. Makenzie Browning will be the team’s point guard. Browning a good ball handler and shooter who makes good decisions. She’ll be joined by Haven Deskins at shooting guard. She has made a lot of strides over the summer and should give Tug Valley a great scoring option.
Sophomore Bailee Hall is a three sport star who is very good ball handler and should see time at forward. Katelynn Richardson is freshman who Ooten will heavily rely on. Richardson is described as a “Swiss Army Knife” who can play a number of different positions and roles at a high level.
Mindi Dearnell is a sophomore who has been called a pleasant surprise. She’s expected to play at center and provide a physical presence for the Lady Panthers.
Freshman Riley Porter is tall and shows a lot of potential to develop and grow. She should see some time for the Lady Panthers.
Peyton Sheppard, Zoey Hensley and Maria Pilkins should all compete for playing time and come off the bench for Tug Valley this season.
With only one seniors and one junior on the roster, Tug Valley is young. While Ooten is a new head coach, he’s been with the program with the program for a while and should make the transition fairly easy for his group.
Look for Tug Valley to improve as the season continues and make some noise when the sectional tournament begins.
Photos Courtesy of Karen Watts