By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Destiney Sims scored 15 points and Deja Taxley snagged 12 rebounds to help lead the Bluefield Beavers to the West Virginia Class AA Region III, Section 2 championship, claiming a 47-43 win over the PikeView Lady Panthers, Thursday night at Princeton Senior High School.
“It’s good because nobody gave us any credit all year,” said BHS head coach Tony Mallamaci. “We had a good team, we had a touch schedule and we were a little bit better than our record.
“Any time the votes would come out we never got any votes from the press, from the coaches and that gave us motivation all year because we knew we were as good as teams we would beat and they would get votes. We had a determination to earn our own respect.”
The beginning of the game was, to put it mildly, sloppy. Both teams turned the ball over numerous times and missed several open and close-in shots. It was not until midway through the opening period that the first points went on the scoreboard, a put-back by Taxley. A minute later Dazia Edwards scored to give Bluefield a 4-0 lead. Lyndsay Hatfield scored PikeView’s first basket with two minutes remaining in the opening frame and Bluefield led 6-4 after the first eight minutes.
Bluefield began to pull away in the second quarter. a basket by Sims and a fast break lay up by Jesslyn Fullerton gave the Lady Beavers a seven point advantage and forced PikeView to call time. Bluefield’s lead eventually grew to 10 before in the final minute of the half the Lady Panthers made a charge. A pair of free throws by both Lyndsay Hatfield and Madison May made it a four point game as the halftime buzzer sounded with Bluefield leading 20-16.
Fullerton fired in a three to open the second half for the Lady Beavers but Hatfield responded with a trey and two free throws. Hatfield then stole the ball and May scored to cut the Lady Beavers lead to one. PikeView took its first lead midway through the third on Courtney White’s put-back and went up by five on a Lauryn Hatfield basket with 3:00 on the third quarter clock. PikeView held a three point lead as the teams went to the fourth quarter.
PikeView head coach Karen Miller talked about her team’s run to open the second half.
“We told them to drive to the basket, get a closer shot and we started to do that and we got back into the game and even had the lead,” Miller said.
Two Edwards free throws and a bucket by Sims in the first minute of the fourth put the Lady Beavers back on top. The teams battled and exchanged the lead several times and Bluefield retook the lead for good when Tyra Jackson put a missed free throw through the rim to make the score 44-43 with 4:41 to play. Bluefield then proceeded to hold PikeView scoreless the rest of the game and claim the sectional championship.
In addition to Sim’s 14, Brown came off the Bluefield bench to drop in 10 points and Fullerton added nine. Brown also had nine rebounds and Edwards cleared eight boards.
“Destiney is one of the best guards in the area and she never gets any credit,” Mallamaci said. “Other players all over the county do. I am not surprised with the game she had.”
Mallamaci continued, talking about the rebounding of Taxley, Edwards and Brown.
“We’ve got some good-sized kids and that’s our strength,” Mallamaci said. “When we rebound well and get it inside, we usually do pretty good.”
Lyndsay Hatfield led PikeView with 16 points. White had 15 points with 10 rebounds, May scored 10 and Lauryn Hatfield had six steals and six assists.
“We missed a lot of shots, had plenty of opportunities and didn’t take advantage,” Miller said. “We got down by 10, then we came back ad got the lead. We just made a lot of mistakes, missed a lot of shots. We’ve got to get ready to play whomever, whether it’s Westside or Summers. We’ve just got to get ready.”
Bluefield will host Summers County next Thursday in one Region III co-final and PikeView will travel to Westside the same night in the other regional co-final. The winners of those game will advance to the state tournament.
Mallamaci concluded, “I told them if we get back, rebound and play smart, two out of three weren’t bad tonight, because we threw the ball all over the place... We won on heart and hustle. We’ve got four seniors and they really wanted it.”
At Princeton Senior High School
Tyra Jackson 1 1-2 3, Jesslyn Fullerton 4 0-0 9, Essence Brown 4 2-3 10, Jessica Hayden 0 0-0 0, Dazia Edwards 3 2-2 8, Abby Atwell 0 0-0 0, Destiney Sims 6 2-6 15, Deja Taxley 1 0-0 2, Totals 19 7-13 47.
Madison May 4 2-6 10, Hailee Fralin 0 0-0 0, Lauryn Hatfield 1 0-1 2, Crysta Meekins 0 0-0 0, Alexis May 0 0-0 0, Lyndsay Hatfield 4 6-10 16, Courtney White 7 1-2 15, Totals 16 9-19 43.
Bluefield..................6 14 12 15 — 47
PikeView.................4 12 19 8 — 43
3-point goals: B - 2 (Fullerton, Sims); PV - 2 (Lyn. Hatfield 2)