By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Meeting No. 2 between the Bluefield Lady Beavers and the Graham G-Girls was a closely contested affair which saw the teams battle to the final horn as the Lady Beavers claimed a 47-41 win, Monday night at the Brushfork Armory.
With the win Bluefield claimed a season sweep over their cross-town, cross-state rivals.
“I don’t want to play them the next three years with all those good freshmen,” joked Bluefield head coach Tony Mallamaci. “They’ve got a good team and I hate playing them because they battle and battle and battle. They are well-coached and are a smart team. It’s always a tough game when we play them.”
Bluefield raced out to an 11-2 lead midway through the first quarter, paced by four points from Deja Taxley and three from Dazia Edwards.
The G-Girls fought back to within two on a basket by Dejah Carter, a trey by Lexi Kiser and a bucket by Jia Coppola — three of the freshmen Mallamaci mentioned. The Lady Beavers led 14-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Points were at a premium in the second period for both teams.
A put-back by Coppola midway through the quarter tied the game at 14, but just as in the first stanza, the Lady Beavers pulled away.
Graham made another run, coming to within two with just over a minute left in the half, but Bluefield took a four point lead into the locker room thanks to a basket by Abby Atwell and a pair of free throws by Taxley.
Graham attacked in the third period and knotted the game again with five minutes on the clock on Carter’s bucket, but the G-Girls could not grasp the lead. Three baskets in the period by Destiney Sims allowed Bluefield to carry a two-point lead, 33-31 into the fourth stanza.
A minute into the final frame Graham tied the contest at 35 on a free throw by Kiser. Bluefield then went on a 7-1 run on a three by Sims, a basket by Tyra Jackson and a two-point goal by Sims and the Lady Beavers held on for the win.
“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” said Graham head coach Tracy Raban. “We’d fight back, execute everything as we had planned, get right back to where we needed to be and couldn’t get a defensive stop. We couldn’t do enough to pull it out.”
Sims topped the Bluefield scoring column with 17 points and Jesslyn Fullerton added 10.
Mallamaci said rebounding was the key for his team.
“I stressed to them, especially Taxley, I said we had to box out and keep Carter and Coppola off the boards. I said if we can do that somewhat effectively, we should be somewhat OK and I think we boxed them out and kept them off the boards for the most part,” Mallamaci said.
Taxley had 11 rebounds for the Lady Beavers while Edwards pulled down eight and Atwell six. Carter cleaned the glass 10 times and had three blocks for the G-Girls.
Kiser led Graham with a game-high 19 points and Emaleigh Gallinger scored 10 with three steals and two assists.
Raban said that her young team, with three freshmen starting are showing signs of improvement.
“Take this game, it was a physical game, could have gone either way. If this were the first game (against Bluefield) I think they would have shut down, so I think they are definitely maturing,” Raban said.
“All I ask of them is to do what I ask them to do. It seems like we grow each game. It’s a tough loss, but we’ll just keep getting better as the year goes on.”
Graham falls to 3-4 and will host Galax on Friday. Bluefield, now 3-2 will also be in action on Friday as they host Mount View.
At Brushfork Armory
Lexi Kiser 4 9-10 19, MyKenzie Roach 0 0-0 0, Alysia Leung 0 0-0 0, Emaleigh Gallinger 3 4-8 10, Bethany Evans 0 1-2 1, Casey Spencer 0 0-0 0, Jia Coppola 2 1-2 5, Ashley Rasnake 0 0-0 0, Bailee Poe 0 0-2 0, Dejah Carter 2 2-6 6, Totals 11 17-30 41.
Tyra Jackson 2 0-0 4, Jesslyn Fullerton 4 2-3 10, Essence Brown 1 1-1 3, Jessica Hayden 0 0-0 0, Dazia Edwards 1 1-3 3, Abby Atwell 1 0-0 2, Destiney Sims 7 2-3 17, Deja Taxley 3 2-3 8, Jamaikah Wallace 0 0-0 0, Totals 19 7-13 47
Graham........11 8 12 10 — 41
Bluefield.......14 9 10 14 — 47
3-point goals: G 2 (Kiser 2); B 1 (Sims)
Fouled out: Taxley. Technical Fouls: None.