By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
It was a true cat fight at Princeton Senior High School Tuesday night at the No. 4 Class AA Summers County Lady Bobcats paid a visit to the homestanding No. 6 Class AAA Princeton Tigerettes.
When all the ball had been played and the final horn sounded the Tigerettes were standing tall with a 59-44 win.
The first four minutes of the game were nip-and-tuck with Princeton holding a slim 9-6 lead when Summers County post player Brandy Morrison went to the floor in the lane with an ankle injury.
Summers County staff assisted her off the floor and the Lady Bobcats were without their leading scorer for the rest of the game.
Lady Bobcats head coach Wayne Ryan spoke about the injury following the game.
“We won’t know until she gets it checked out tomorrow,” Ryan said. “We definitely missed her because she’s our leading scorer, our tallest kid, our post player. We missed her but I am proud of the way our kids battled and Princeton’s got a heck of a basketball team.”
After Morrison left the game Princeton went on an 8-0 run to close the first quarter and led 17-6 after one period of action. Key for the Tigerettes in the first period were three treys made by McKenzie Akers and four points by Khadijah Payne.
Princeton head coach Debbie Ball said, “It’s always a team effort and I expect that, each one of them to step up. They’ve gotten to the point where basically they know what to do, they don’t always execute it, but tonight, Summers losing their player hurt them and it will be a different game there.”
Princeton pulled further ahead in the second period as Marissa Mullins led the offensive production and Ashley Culicerto came off the bench to contribute. Each lady dropped in a three along with other baskets to help stake the Tigerettes to a 35-22 halftime lead.
Summers County got 10 points in the first half from Shelby Smith.
The Lady Bobcats clawed back in the third quarter, cutting a Princeton lead that at one point was 18, down to 13. Avery Pivont came out of the dressing room with a hot hand, hitting two threes, two free throws and two buckets from the field.
Ryan added, “She (Pivont) can do that (score), we just need her to do it more consistently. She’s capable of scoring a lot of points and scoring points quickly. We’ve got to get her shoulders to the basket and get her with an aggressive mentality offensively.”
The Tigerettes withstood the Summers County run, getting seven points in the quarter from Hannah Preservati and led 50-34 headed into the game’s final eight minutes.
The Lady Bobcats made a final charge in the fourth, pulling again as close as 13 midway through the period and again with just over a minute to play, but Princeton, playing disciplined basketball, went to the four corners twice, one time Mullins scoring on a layup and another time they went to the free throw line. Both times the Tigerettes moved the ball for over a minute without a turnover, or taking a shot.
“We just kept fighting on defense and cashed in on a couple,” Ryan said. “If we could have been a little more efficient offensively, we could have made the ball game even a little closer. I thought our kids really tried hard defensively. Princeton is a good offensive team.”
Akers led Princeton with 22 points and Mullins added 13. Pivot led Summers County with 22 and Smith contributed 10.
Princeton made 15-of-17 free throws. Ball said, “We work on foul shooting and we have kind of struggled through the year. I’ve tried different things at our practices, how to put more pressure on them. It’s a big part of our game and it’s something that we’re going to have to execute.”
Princeton (11-2) returns to action tonight at Riverside in an MSAC contest.
“They (Riverside) have a big post player that I’m worried about and a pretty good guard,” Ball commented. “I am hoping the post player can’t run. Maybe if we can run a little bit we’ll run her down.”
Summers County (11-3) takes to the court again Thursday at PikeView.
At Princeton Senior High School
SUMMERS COUNTY (46)
Hayley Shrewsbury 0 0-0 0, Avery Pivont 7 6-6 22, Abby Taylor 1 3-6 5, Beennah Davis 0 0-0 0, Emily Smith 0 0-0 0, Tyra Wynes 3 1-2 7, Audrey Holley 0 0-0 0, Brandy Morrison 1 0-0 2, Brittany Bonds 0 0-2 0, Shelby Smith 5 0-2 10, Totals 17 10-18 46.
McKenzie Akers 6 7-8 22, Ashley Culicerto 2 2-2 7, Marissa Mullins 6 0-1 13, Khadija Payne 2 4-4 8, Hannah Preservati 2 2-2 7, Stephanie Lambert 0 0-0 0, Rachel Surface 1 0-0 2, Totals 19 15-17 59.
Summers County...........8 14 12 12 — 46
Princeton.......................17 18 15 9 — 59
3-point baskets: SC 2 (Pivont 2), P 6 (Akers 3, Culicerto, Mullins, Preservati)