Rabbit season: Garland ‘Rabbit’ Thompson back on the Tug Valley bench

In this file photo, Tug Valley coach Garland “Rabbit” Thompson sits on the bench during the state tournament. Thompson is back on the Tug Valley sidelines as he will be the new Panther head basketball coach.

The Tug Valley Panthers made a new hire not too long ago and have turned to a familiar face in Garland “Rabbit” Thompson to lead their basketball team.

 Thompson has won multiple state titles at Tug Valley when he coached there from 2007 through 2015.

“I am very excited to be coaching at Tug Valley again,” Thompson said. “I am also glad to bring some very experienced coaches with me, some very familiar to the Tug Valley area. Helping me will be long time assistant Tyler Hodge along side Ronnie Blankenship, David Ledger (who was on the staff of the very first Tug Valley football team) and Curt Fletcher(who won state championships with the Williamson Wolfpack). I’ll be leaning heavily on their experience.”

This coaching experience Thompson refers to is vital to the success of this team who has one of the better young cores in Class A basketball in the state. With players like junior guard Caleb May, sophomore center Ethan Colegrove and junior sharpshooter Tyler Chaffin returning the team can put themselves in prime position to make it to the state tournament.

The Panthers finished with a 13-13 record last season just falling short of the regional title. The Panthers were a .500 team. The Panthers performed well at home last season going 7-5, but only went 3-5 on the road, while splitting neutral site games 3-3. So it’s not outlandish to think this young Panther squad will improve this season.

Tug Valley also outscored opponents 1,630 to 1,591 in 26 regular season games. The Panthers were accustomed to keeping games close all season long which is a huge plus considering they only had one senior and most of the squad were freshman and sophomores. It shows that they do have a certain level of maturity late in games and can put themselves in good situations. Most of these points came from fastbreak points and playing with an up tempo style of play that Thompson looks to highlight and develop in his current term.

“As for play style, I think most kids like to get up and down the floor so we will try to continue that style of play,” Thompson said. “The three week period will give us a chance to see them really for the first time. Tug Valley has always been pretty good defensively, so hopefully we can continue that. The kids know the system that was in place last year so hopefully we can fine tune some things an hopefully have a team that the Tug Valley fans will get behind and support.”

Tug Valley has put a lot of faith in Thompson, but he was very adamant on the positive impact and good job former head coach Edwin May had done.

“Coach May did a tremendous job reaching the state semifinals two of the four years he was here,” Thompson said. “That will be tough to follow. These kids know the tradition that has been established at Tug Valley, so hopefully these kids can add to the rich tradition that has been established . I pray we can make lightning strike twice. We are going to try everything we know to make that happen.”

The Panther faithful have a lot to look forward too come basketball season based on last year’s performance and the new coaching additions that play right in a hand that looks to deal the Panthers right back into state tournament play as they dive back down the “Rabbit” hole.

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