By JONATHAN GREENE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Coaches always preach to their team the importance of making free throws.
On Tuesday night, the PikeView Lady Panthers connected on 14-of-16 attempts in the fourth quarter to hold off Bluefield 50-39 at the Brushfork Armory.
“I was very concerned playing on this big floor,” PikeView head coach Karen Miller said. “I know our defense is going to be there, but I was worried about our shooting. We got down, but we were able to get the lead back.
“We were able to play how we should be. One of my assistant coach’s mother passed away and we dedicated this game to Coach [Dan] Stadvec’s family. I asked the girls to go out there and play for him.”
PikeView (6-6) grabbed the lead early before heading into the break tied with the Lady Beavers at 19-all. Bluefield (8-6) trailed by four after three quarters, but rallied for a two-point lead before senior standout Shelia Hopkins fouled out. The Panthers took full advantage on their way to sweeping the season series.
“We couldn’t make anything,” Bluefield head coach Tony Mallamaci said. “We missed a lot of shots that were very make-able. If we would ave made our shots, it would have been a different game. But that’s what it’s all about.
“We hade several turnovers — double dribbling, walking — and those were fundamental mistakes. We had some breakdowns in fundamentals. That’s basically what the difference in the game was.”
Neither team could get in a rhythm early as the teams traded turnovers. Hopkins connected on two free throws for the first points of the game. Lyndsay Hatfield tied the game with a jumped before Hopkins added a putback.
The teams traded baskets until PikeView made four straight free throws from Alexis May and Hope Nester.
The Lady Panthers led 10-5 after the first eight minutes, but Bluefield was determined to get back in the game.
Abby Atwell was wide open on an inbounds play for an easy score then Dazia Edwards added two free throws to bring the Beavers within two. PikeView pushed the lead back to five points, but Hopkins hit a jumper.
Bluefield then turned a steal into a Jesslyn Fullerton layup. Following a Panthers timeout, Hopkins was able to give the Beavers the lead on two free throws. She would add one more to give them a two-point advantage, but Madison May tied the game just before half at 19-19.
“We had 17 turnovers in the first half and normally, we don’t have that in an entire game,” Miller said. “I don’t know if that was because of the big floor or not. We’ve got Summers on Thursday and we can’t have that amount of turnovers.
“I was pleased to come out with the win. Coach Mallamaci’s girls played hard. They’re a tough group and if you’re not ready to play them, they’ll come after you.”
The game stayed tight in the third quarter with the teams trading the lead on several occasions. Destiny Sims had back-to-back drives to give the Beavers a slight edge midway through the quarter.
Nester had other plans as she drove to the basket and Alexis May added two free throws. May’s sister Madison followed with a pump fake and score. She connected on her free throw to complete the three-point play and give PikeView a 30-25 lead with less than two minutes in the quarter.
Hopkins picked up her fourth foul right then and went to the bench for the rest of the quarter. PikeView’s lead was able to grow to six points, 34-28, after three periods.
“We had two starters foul out and two more were in foul trouble most of the game,” Mallamaci said. “That takes you out of your rhythm a good bit. The same thing happened the first time we played.
“We’re not moving our feet and we have poor fundamentals. We have to get back to working on our fundamentals both offensively and defensively.”
Bluefield come out on fire to start the fourth with a jumper from Hopkins. Tyra Jackson followed with a jumper and Jessica Hayden added a lay-up. The Beavers took their last lead of the game on spin move by Hopkins.
With just over four minutes left in the game, Hopkins picked up her fifth foul ending her night. Nester made two free throws to tie the game before the Panthers slowly took control of the game.
“It was a huge blow,” Mallamaci said. “She was doing real well inside. We were getting the ball into the post.
“She takes up space defensively and does a good job on the boards. When we lose her, that’s a big part of our game lost.”
Bluefield’s offense couldn’t get anything going as they managed only three points down the stretch. PikeView got a big boost from Crysta Meekins who scored all seven of her points in the final quarter. She went 7-of-8 from the line.
“I asked them on the bench who could come in and step up,” Miller said. “Number 14 said I can. We put her in and she played well defense.
“Everyone played well on defense. She really stepped up and gave us points as well. Anytime you can get anyone from your bench to step up is a plus.”
Nester paced PikeView with 19 points including 11 from the line. She grabbed 8 rebounds. Lyndsay Hatfield had eight points and eight boards. Madison May added seven points and 13 boards.
Hopkins’ 14 points led Bluefield. Ten of those came in the first half. Sims added eight points.
The Panthers host Summers County on Thursday while Bluefield visits Wyoming East
At Princeton Senior High School
Alexis May 6, Hope Nester 19, Madison May 7, Lyndsey Hatfield 8, Courtney White 3, Crysta Meekins 7. Totals- 12 26-35 50.
Katelyn Thompson 2, Tyra Jackson 4, Jessica Hayden 2, Dazia Edwards 2, Jesslyn Fullerton 3, Abby Atewell 3, Destiny Sims 8, Khadijah Brown 1, Shelia Hopkins 14. Totals- 9 11-21 39.
PikeView............................10 9 15 16 — 50
Bluefield.............................5 14 9 11 — 39
3 pt field goals: PV none, BLU none. Fouled out- Hopkins, Sims, Jackson.