Tony Mallamaci was in his old stomping grounds Friday night.
The former coach at now-closed Iaeger High School brought a talented collection of Bluefield High girls to the gym of River View High School, and left western McDowell County with a 59-17 victory on the Lady Raiders' home court to end day one of the Little General Invitational Basketball Tournament.
Ten Bluefield Beavers made the scoring column, while only three River View girls had points. Bluefield had 35 steals in the game; Khadijah Brown and Destiney Sims had seven each. Bluefield made 19 of 44 foul shots, and River View connected on 4 of 18 tries.
The Lady Raiders' standout player Chelsey Dobbs could only watch from the bench, with an ankle sprain ruling her out for this weekend and crutches helping her take the weight off the injury. Her absence, and that of several graduated players from last season's team, contributed to problems on both ends of the floor for the home squad.
Bluefield generated eight steals in the first quarter, taking an 18-2 lead at the end of the first eight minutes via a high, arcing three-point shot from Sims. That caused a unison whoop to come from the Bluefield bench.
At halftime, the Beavers' lead was 30-8. Again in the third quarter, River View was held to a single field goal.
Near the end of the third quarter, a technical foul was assessed against a River View player for stomping on Bluefield's Dazia Edwards after both had hit the floor chasing a loose ball. Taryn Auville made both technical foul shots for a 40-10 Bluefield lead, as security officers took up positions behind the scorer's table.
The final period began with River View's Phyllis Waldron hitting a three-pointer from the left side, and she was greeted by a cheer from the home fans. She followed with a layup and ended with seven points. Brittany Coeburn was the Lady Raiders' top scorer with eight.
“I thought she played a great first half,” said River View head coach Gehrig Justice.
Sims had 12 points, including a pair of treys, to lead Bluefield's scoring. Jessica Hayden and Edwards each contributed 10 points. Courtney Auville was Bluefield's rebounding leader with seven. Taryn Auville, Hayden and Abby Atwell each had six boards for the Beavers.
Bench players got considerable time for both teams as the game played out.
Asked what he expected from the game, Mallamaci said, “That's our first regular-season game. I really didn't know what to expect.”
A preseason scrimmage with Princeton didn't turn out well for Bluefield. The coach said that Friday's opening-season win “gives them confidence. After the Princeton scrimmage, they were a little down.”
“I've told them, we could have a chance, if we keep working, to be pretty good … but we've got a long way to go.”
He also noted that as a result of the opening game, “I found out that we have pretty good depth, a lot more than last year. I wasn't all that pleased with the half-court game. We didn't move our feet.”
Mallamaci was the boys' head basketball coach at Iaeger High for his last four years working in the McDowell County school system, 1997-2001.
He said, “I love coming down here. I see a lot of friends. I see a lot of people I coached with, and coached against. … It's a homecoming.”
Justice said, “To be honest, we didn't play that bad.” He said some of the performance was due to inexperienced players being nervous. “The only player we have with more than one year of varsity experience is Chelsey, and she couldn't play.”
He said he counted the points that Bluefield got as a result of River View substitutes coming in. His total came to 22.
“I told them (at halftime), 'Girls, it'd be tied right now, but we gave them layups. … There's no need to be nervous, just go out and play and have fun.' “
He noted that Bluefield did not score a field goal in the first 4:45 of the second half. “We came out, we got 'em calmed down, and we held Bluefield for quite a length of time.”
“That's not to say we'd beat them,” he said, “but I saw nothing there that says we can't play.”
River View will play Wyoming East to begin today's Little General tournament action at 1 p.m. The Beavers and their cross-town neighbors Graham will oppose each other in the championship game at about 3 p.m.
At River View High School
Bluefield...................................18 12 11 18 — 59
River View..................................2 6 2 7 — 17
Kaitlyn Thompson 0 2-4 2, Khadijah Brown 2 3-8 7, Tyra Jackson 1 2-4 4, Bailey Cassell 1 0-1 2, Jessica Hayden 4 2-4 10, Dazia Edwards 4 2-3 10, Abby Atwell 1 1-8 3, Destiney Sims 4 2-6 12, Courtney Auville 1 3-4 5, Taryn Auville 1 2-2 4. Totals 19 19-44 59.
Brittany Coeburn 2 4-8 8, Kireston Dority 0 0-1 0, Raven Kennedy 1 0-4 2, Phyllis Waldron 3 0-5 7.
Totals 6 4-18 17.
3-point goals – BHS 2 (Sims 2), RV 1 (Waldron). Fouled out – RV, Waldron, Akasa Benton.