By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
With the handcuffs removed, the Destiney for the Lady Beavers on Thursday evening was victory.
Destiney Sims scored 24 points, and keyed an aggressive Bluefield defense that played havoc with Wyoming East, leading the Beavers to an impressive 86-47 win over the Warriors at the Brushfork Armory.
Just a freshman, Sims had eight first quarter points and added 16 more in the second half. Bluefield head coach Tony Mallamaci admitted to holding Sims back early in the season, but released her two days after Christmas.
“I had to take the handcuffs off of her,” said Mallamaci, with a smile. “A couple of games there I handcuffed her and I finally told her, ‘Go do what you do, your talent is better than my brains.’”
Sims was joined in double figures by Shelia Hopkins, who had 16 of her 20 points in a ‘monster’ second half, while Kaitlyn Thompson added 11 points and Khadijah Brown tossed in 10.
Bluefield led 31-25 at the break, but outscored the Warriors 55-22 in the second half, including 30-7 in the third quarter.
“The first half we were a bit sloppy, but we hadn’t played since last Wednesday and then we had a few days off for Christmas so I guess that was to be expected,” Mallamaci said. “Usually we play a good first half and a bad second half.
“We finally turned it around, I thought overall we played real well.”
Wyoming East (4-3), which was led by Bre Pertee with 14 points and 13 from Chelsea Duncan, actually took a 6-0 lead in the opening period by beating the quicker Beavers down the court for transitions baskets, forcing Mallamaci to call a timeout.
“They beat our press, once they got that first pass in to beat the press they were beating the backside down and getting layups,” Mallamaci said. “Even after a missed shot they were outrunning us so I called a timeout to try and get that straightened out and we went to a zone and that helped a little bit.
“They have got some good shooters and they never quit, they played hard.”
From that point, the Beavers went into attack mode on defense, forcing three turnovers in the backcourt that led to eight unanswered points for a lead Bluefield would never relinquish.
Bluefield built its lead to 19-15 after one quarter, and 31-25 at the break, with Jessica Hayden helping build that margin with two field goals, including a 3, in the final seconds of the half.
Sims teamed with Thompson and Tyra Jackson — who scored nine points — in the backcourt, compensating for the absence of normal starter Dazia Edwards, who is out with a sprained ankle.
About the only fault Mallamaci could find with Sims or her teammates was a tendency for over-aggressiveness on defense, but that strategy did result in more than 30 Wyoming East turnovers, including nine in the opening quarter and 13 at the break.
“(Destiney) is a good player, if I can just keep her out of foul trouble, she reaches too much,” Mallamaci said. “We are still reaching a little bit too much and got some cheap fouls, but other than that overall I am pretty pleased with them.”
“We were kind of playing a little aggressive,” added Hopkins, “but we calmed down a little bit and played good ball, no silly fouls, none of that.”
Hopkins had just four points at the break, but came out focused and dominated the third quarter, providing 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and a blocked shot in that eight minute span.
“I was kind of frustrated at first, but I just tried to keep my head in the game and just kept shooting and shooting and hopefully my shot will fall,” Hopkins said. “The second half I came out prepared, good defense, hustle, just teamwork, ball movement and we got the win.”
Suddenly, a six-point lead grew to 23 (61-32) after three quarters, led by an 18-2 run for the Beavers before the Warriors got their first second half field goal with 1:52 on the clock.
That lead continued to grow, as Bluefield outscored Wyoming East 25-15 in the final period, with Sims connecting on two 3s and Thompson adding one of her own as the Beavers continue to adjust to playing at the Armory.
“It is very big, we have to get used to it,” Hopkins said. “We have practiced out here a couple of times, but it is nice, I love it.”
Bluefield, which had last played last Wednesday, will now take another long hiatus, with its next game not slated until next Friday at Summers County.
“It was kind of cold in the gym, but we got our game back,” Hopkins said. “The Lady Beavers came out prepared, we came to win tonight.”
Much like the Bluefield motto that is painted on the Armory floor, Mallamaci is starting to believe in this collection of Beavers.
“I believe we can,” Mallamaci said. “We still have to shore up some of that sloppiness, but overall I am pretty pleased with them right now.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Brushfork Armory
WYOMING EAST (4-3)
Kristen Bailey 0 4-4 4, Chelsea Duncan 6 1-2 13, Chiara Jewell 0 1-4 1, Bri Pertee 5 4-9 14, Taleah Bailey 2 1-2 6, Hannah Ford 3 0-2 6, Haley Bowman 1 0-1 2, Natoshia Williams 0 1-2 1, Amber Arnott 0 0-0 0, Allison Lovins 0 0-0 0, Kaci Mullins 0 0-0 0, Chelsey Adkins 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 12-36 47.
Kaitlyn Thompson 4 2-2 11, Destiney Sims 11 0-1 24, Tyra Jackson 4 1-6 9, Khadijah Brown 5 0-0 10, Shelia Hopkins 8 4-4 20, Jessica Hayden 2 0-0 5, Jesslyn Fullerton 1 2-3 4, Teryn Auville 1 0-0 2, Abby Atwell 0 1-2 1, Courtney Auville 0 0-0 0, Jessica Lester 0 0-0 0, Marceda Lee 0 0-0 0. Totals 36 10-18 86.
Wyoming East.....................15 10 7 15 — 47
Bluefield...............................19 12 30 25 — 86
3-point goals: WE 1 (T.Bailey 1); BF 4 (Sims 2, Thompson 1, Hayden 1). Total fouls: WE 14; BF 19. Fouled out: Brown. Technicals: none.