By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Two days after defeating the top team in the state, PikeView returned to the court to face a team that nearly did the same a few weeks before.
Madison May completed a stellar three-game week with 24 points and six rebounds, and the Hatfield sisters combined for 15 points, leading the Panthers to a hard-fought 61-56 win over Bluefield on Saturday afternoon.
Bluefield (6-6) was hoping to catch PikeView (12-3) thinking back to its 45-29 win over No. 1 Summers County on Thursday, but no such luck for the Beavers.
“I think we would have played them tough anyway, we have got a pretty good team too,” Mallamaci said. “I think they might have the best team in the state to tell you the truth.
“Of the teams we have played, to me they have the most even amount of talent across from 1 through 7 or 8 as any team we have seen. I would put them right there with Westside as the top two teams in the state.”
PikeView (12-3) head coach Karen Miller had warned her club that the Beavers would be poised for the upset.
“It is tough, but we knew it was going to be a battle,” Miller said. “Every time you play Bluefield it is a battle. They have got a good team, they have got good size, they have good guards, they have good shooters.
“We knew it. Coach does real good with his team.”
Bluefield (6-6), which lost Summers County in four overtimes last month, had the size advantage on the Panthers, but — despite 13 points for Tyra Jackson, 12 from Deja Taxley and 11 more by Destiney Sims — the Beavers fell behind by six, 43-37, after three quarters and PikeView was able to build the lead to as much as nine in the final period.
Taxley also had 13 rebounds, while Jackson added eight and Essence Brown had seven.
“If we could ever put together a good shooting night we could play with anybody, but that is a big if,” Mallamaci said.
The opening half featured six lead changes and five ties, with May scoring 11 first half point to pull the Panthers ahead 23-22 lead at the break.
May, who had 54 points in three wins this week, was able to use her tall frame to get inside against the bigger Beavers, using her left hand to score 11 third quarter points to enable the Panthers to get that six-point lead with a quarter to play.
May, who had 15 points and four steals against Summers County, added four steals, and even made a 3 for the Panthers, proving Miller right about the 6-foot sophomore’s ability to play anywhere on the floor.
“She is versatile, she can play every one of the positions,” Miller said. “She really helped us inside when we had to put it inside.”
Bluefield had two opportunities while trailing 29-28 in the third quarter to take the lead, but couldn’t get shots to drop. PikeView followed with 15-6 run, sparked by May, who had all 11 of her points in the final 3:42 of the period.
Mallamaci is still looking for his Beavers to regain its earlier form from that disappointing four-overtime loss to Summers County.
“We have improved a lot, we kind of peaked out at the Summers County game, losing that one was a heartbreaker because we had that game won and then we just kind of gave it away,” said Mallamaci, whose Beavers have played a tough schedule, losing to such talented squads as PikeView, Summers County, Westside and Richlands. “We went through a lull after that plus the snow days and missing all those games...
“We are just now getting back to where we was at with the Summers County game.”
Bluefield trimmed the lead to four on four occasions in the final period, but the Panthers always had an answer, led by five of Crysta Meekins nine points, and excellent ballhandling from Lauryn Hatfield, who had eight points and six assists, while continuing to replace the production of former point guard Hope Nester, who has been out all season with an injury.
“Lauryn is getting better and better as the season goes...,” said Miller, who’s primary concern for Hatfield is keeping her out of foul trouble. “She has really improved a whole lot. Last year she got a lot of experience playing point when we had Hope. This year she is really doing great for us.”
Hatfield’s twin sister, Lyndsay Hatfield, added seven points and eight rebounds before leaving late after getting her nose bloodied by an elbow from Taxley while diving on the floor for a loose ball.
Courtney White added nine points and 11 rebounds for the Panthers, who will host James Monroe on Monday.
Bluefield faces a tall task this week of its own, beginning on Tuesday with Summers County, and Westside two days later.
“I knew it would be a close game, I knew we could play with them, beating them is a whole different thing,” Mallamaci said. “They are awfully good, very well-coached, but I am pleased that we were competitive all the way through.
“I knew we could if we played as hard as we normally play, but they are a heck of a team.”
—Contact Brian Woodson at email@example.com
at PikeView High School
Essence Brown 0 3-4 3, Jessica Hayden 0 0-0 0, Dazia Edwards 0 4-6 4, Destiney Sims 4 4-6 11, Deja Taxley 6 0-2 12, Tyra Jackson 6 1-3 13, Jesslyn Fullerton 3 0-1 6, Abby Atwell 0 0-0 0, Teryn Auville 3 0-0 7. Totals 22 12-22 56.
Madison May 9 5-8 24, Lauryn Hatfield 2 3-4 8, Alexis May 0 0-0 0, Lyndsay Hatfield 3 0-0 7, Courtney White 5 1-2 11, Brittany Moore 0 0-0 0, Hailee Fralin 1 0-0 2, Crysta Meekins 3 2-2 9. Totals 23 11-16 61.
Bluefield...........................11 11 15 19 — 56
PikeView..........................11 12 20 18 — 61
3-point goals: BF 2 (Sims 1, Auville 1); PV 4 (M.May 1, La.Hatfield 1, Meekins, Ly.Hatfield 1). Total fouls: BF 15; PV 17. Fouled out: none. Technicals: Taxley.