By JONATHAN GREENE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
For three quarters of play, it looked as if Summers County was going to ride out of PikeView with an easy win. The Panthers were all, but knocked out. Then the fourth quarter happened.
PikeView dropped 33 points in the final eight minutes, but the Bobcats were able to hold them off for an 84-76 win on Tuesday at PikeView High School.
“We expected to win. We were up 31 points at the break,” Summers County head coach James Payne said. “It got too easy for us. We knew it wouldn’t continue. They did a nice job coming back.
“It’s hard to keep your focus when you hit nine three’s in the first half. PikeView did some really nice things. You’ve get them high marks for not quitting. A lot teams would have packed it in.”
The Panthers (5-13) trailed 53-22 at the break and were down 70-43 after three. They held Summers County (11-8) to 14 points in the final period as they made a furious rally to get within single digits.
“We talked about at halftime how we didn’t want our kids to quit,” PikeView head coach Lindsey Jones said. “We wanted them to keep working hard, keep playing defense and hopefully somebody will take the lid of the basket. We missed a lot of easy shots especially in the first half.
“I told them to keep working hard and eventually those shots will start falling. And, they did.”
The Bobcats opened the game on a 13-4 run thanks to two three’s and a jumper from T.J. Smith. Zach Meadows stopped the run with a lay-in and Seth Wood cut through the defense for a bucket. The teams traded baskets as Summers County took a 17-10 lead after one quarter.
The margin grew substantially in the second stanza as the Bobcats kept getting open looks from deep and converting.
They hit six three’s — Taron Ayers had three, Smith had two and Matt Ryan added the other.
“We got really good looks,” Payne commented. “We were making everything. We had pretty much a lot of uncontested shots and made them all.
“When my team shots well, we can compete with anyone. We’re just small and we have to shoot well to compete. When we shot well, we can compete with anyone in our class.”
Not only was Summers County hitting everything, but PikeView couldn’t buy a basket. The Panthers had numerous opportunities near the basket, yet could not convert. The perfect storm allowed the Bobcats to take a big lead into the break.
“You miss that many shots and they start getting run outs, the kids start hanging their heads,” Jones said. “They shot really well in the first half and made a lot of big shots. They executed what they were doing and we weren’t doing a good job of closing out on them. It was a perfect formula.”
PikeView started to find their touch on offense at the start of the third.
Meadows had a lay-in then Tanner Farley had a nice drive to the basket. The teams traded baskets until the end when the Panthers went on an 11-3 run to close out the quarter.
Weitzel had a drive to the hoop and two free throws while Meadows scored on a fastbreak and hit a fade away jumper.
“[We] got a little lazy,” Payne said. “The coaching staff knew PikeView would make a big comeback. We knew they’d fight to last second. I don’t if we got our players to understand that. Maybe they’ll understand it now.”
PikeView carried the momentum over into the fourth quarter as they would not go away silently.
Weitzel scored 17 of the teams’ 33 points in the period off a combination of three’s and drives to the rim. Jonathan Burrell added a three and lay-in to get the Panthers going.
PikeView pulled within nine, 80-71, with 39 seconds remaining following a foul and technical foul on Jaquan Ayers. Meadows hit one of his two free throws and Weitzel knocked down the technical free throws.
The closest they would get would be six after a three by Austin Hazelwood with three seconds left.
“That’s all you can ask for. The kids kept working hard,” Jones said. “Zach Meadows played real well. We said we were going to go to him.
“We did a good job of setting him picks and getting him opportunities on the block. Then Jason started penetrating to the basket and knocked down some three’s. It just started rolling.”
Meadows had 25 points and 21 rebounds —10 on the offensive glass. Weitzel had a game-high 32 points and six assists.
Smith paced Summers County with 27 points. Taron Ayers had 21 and Isaiah Brown finished with 13. Josh Graham chipped in with 11.
PikeView hosts James Monroe on Thursday in a boys-girls doubleheader beginning at 6 p.m. Summers County visits Greenbrier West on Monday and closes out the regular season at James Monroe Tuesday.
At PikeView High School
SUMMERS COUNTY (11-8)
Isaiah Brown 13, Ryan 7, Taron Ayers 21, J. Ayers 2, Josh Graham 11, T.J. Smith 27, Carr 3. Totals- 28 18-32 84.
Hazelwood 3, Wood 2, Flinchum 2, Cordell 0, Burrell 7, Jason Weitzel 32, Robinson 0, Farley 5, Zach Meadows 25. Totals- 28 14-22 76.
Summers County................17 36 17 14 — 84
PikeView............................10 12 21 33 — 76
3 pt field goals: SC 10 (Smith 4, T. Ayers 4, Ryan, Brown); PV 6 (Weitzel 3, Farley, Burrell, Hazelwood). Fouled out: Wood, Burrell, Weitzel. Technicals- Wood, J. Ayers, Smith.