By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
The free throw. A shot from 15 feet directly in front of the basket with no defenders in the shooter’s face taken as a result of a foul.
Friday night, the Bluefield High School Lady Beavers made 25-of-34 free throws and nipped the Graham G-Girls 50-46 in the girls’ Battle of the Bluefields at Graham Middle School.
Destiney Sims made 8-of-14 from the charity stripe and had a game-high 22 points for Bluefield, which evened its record at 1-1. For Graham, it was the opening game of the season.
BHS head coach Tony Mallamaci said, “That was one of the best games we’ve played in a while. We kept trying to throw the game away, making crazy passes and losing our mind, but we recovered from it, we didn’t give up. We did a pretty good job being tough. This is the first time we’ve beaten them here in a long time. We were just tough tonight.”
After playing most of the first period with the score tied, the final three minutes saw a flurry of action. Bluefield raced out to an 8-2 advantage only to see Emaleigh Gallinger’s three with 30 seconds left pull the G-Girls to within a point. Bailee Poe’s bucket with three seconds left put Graham ahead 9-8 after one quarter of action.
Foul troubled plagued the G-Girls early as the Lady Beavers went into the bonus with 6:42 left in the half. Bluefield was not immune to fouls as a minute later Graham began shooting one-and-one.
The Lady Beavers moved ahead by six before Gallinger popped another three and then Jia Coppola put through a missed shot to bring the G-Girls back to within one. A steal by Coppola and lay up by Alysia Leung brought Graham even at 21 with a minute to play in the half and that is where the score stood at the intermission.
Graham went on a 7-2 run in the first 90 seconds of the third quarter to take a 28-23 lead. Bluefield fought back. Sims scored four baskets in transition and Dazia Edwards dropped in four free throws. Edwards’ two charity tosses with 2:10 to go in the quarter tied the game at 33. It was then the G-Girls turn to make a run as the home team went on a 6-1 spurt to end the quarter. The fourth period began with Graham holding a 37-34 lead.
The G-Girls increased their lead to five at 41-36 before Bluefield began whittling away at the lead. Tyra Jackson’s two free throws tied the game at 42 and the Lady Beavers grabbed the lead moments later on two foul shots by Abby Atwell. The rest of the game was played at the free throw line.
Sims made 1-of-2 to give the Lady Beavers a four point lead with 1:59 on the clock. Dejah Carter made two from the line to bring the G-Girls to within two. Seconds later Carter returned to the line and sank one-of-two to make it a one point game with 1:23 to play. Sims pushed it back to a two point lead when she dropped through one-of-two free throws.
Graham stole the ball down by two with 45 seconds to go but missed a shot and the ball went out of bounds to Bluefield with 35.4 left. The Lady Beavers, however, turned it back over to the G-Girls and Coppola was fouled and went to the line where she made one-of-two to make it again a one-point game.
Bluefield finished out the game with a free throw by Essence Brown and two more from Sims to make the final 50-46.
“As bad as we shot Wednesday (vs. PikeView) from the field, we had to shoot something good and we picked the free throw line to shoot good from,” Mallamaci said. “I am very pleased with our effort. This was like two different teams from Wednesday to tonight.”
Sims was the lone Bluefield player to score in double digits. Edwards had a team-high six rebounds while Sims grabbed four and Atwell three.
Graham’s top scorer was Coppola with 12.
G-Girls head coach Tracy Raban said, “You’ve got to give props to Bluefield. From beginning to end they didn’t quit, which we knew they wouldn’t. First game jitters, you’re going to have them and starting three freshmen, definitely knew it was going to happen.
“We had some rookie mistakes that cost us, but we kept fighting and a couple of things didn’t go our way toward the end of the ball game.”
Bluefield (1-1) returns to action Tuesday night at Westside while Graham (0-1) visits PikeView on Monday.
At Graham Middle School
Tyra Jackson 0 4-4 4, Jesslyn Fullerton 1 0-0 2, Essence Brown 0 1-2 1, Jessica Hayden 1 0-0 3, Dazia Edwards 0 6-8 6, Abby Atwell 0 6-6 6, Destiney Sims 7 8-14 22, Teryn Auville 0 0-0 0, Courtney Auville 0 0-0 0, Jamaikah Wallace 2 0-0 4, Totals 11 25-34 50.
Lexi Kiser 2 0-0 5, MyKenzie Roach 0 0-0 0, Alysia Leung 1 0-1 2, Emaleigh Gallinger 3 1-6 9, Bethany Evans 4 0-0 8, Jia Coppola 4 4-7 12, Ashley Rasnake 0 0-0 0, Bailee Poe 3 1-3 7, Dejah Carter 0 3-6 3, Totals 14 9-23 46.
Bluefield............................8 13 13 16 — 50
Graham.............................9 12 16 7 — 39
3-point baskets: Blu - 1 (Hayden); Gra - 3 (Gallinger 2, Kiser) Fouled out: Blu - Edwards; Gra - Carter, Kiser