By JONATHAN GREENE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The Bluefield Lady Beavers were looking to shake some rust off before playing rival PikeView.
Bluefield used an early lead against Montcalm to get its entire team playing time in a 56-19 victory on Tuesday night at the Brushfork Armory.
“It was a little sloppy,” Bluefield head coach Tony Mallamaci said. “We’ve had too many days between games. We’ve played only about three times in the past three weeks so we couldn’t get in any kind of rhythm.
“In the second half, I thought we got a little bit of the rust off and played better. We played hard, but we were sloppy with the ball.”
The Lady Beavers (6-4) kept the Lady Generals (3-7) off the scoreboard in the first period. Montcalm’s first points came from a three by Leslie Kelly with 4:06 showing on the clock in the second.
“We’re fighting sickness,” Montcalm head coach Jimmy McPherson said. “We’ve got two girls out sick and a couple others that area playing through it. We knew we were going to be a little undermanned.
“Bluefield has a good basketball team. They’re far superior to us athletically and they’re taller and faster. When you run up against that, you’re going to have trouble scoring.”
Bluefield won the tip, but didn’t score until a lay-up by Shelia Hopkins over a minute in. Following a Montcalm turnover, Khadija Brown scored on a fastbreak lay-up and free throw. A steal and a turnover became buckets by Tyra Jackson and Jesslyn Fullerton to make it 9-0.
The lead continued to grow as the Lady Generals struggled to find any rhythm on the armory court. Fullerton hit a three then added a put back before Jackson converted a three-point play to push the margin to 19-0 after the first.
“I thought we didn’t get back well on defense,” McPherson said. “We were trying to play defense 80 feet from the goal instead of getting back down the floor. That hurt us. That gave them a lot of run outs.
“Defensively, they came out in the 2-3 trap and the 2-2-1 full court press and both of those bothered us. We settled down a little and were able to execute. Of course, this was the first time on a court like this and we didn’t shoot well.”
Bluefield led 24-0 before Kelly’s three pointer got Montcalm on the board in the second quarter. Miranda Kendrick added a three of her own before Kelly made one of two free throws to make it 26-7 at the break.
Kendrick had a free throw to start the third quarter, but Bluefield’s Destiny Sims answered with a three. Jackson followed with a putback and Fullerton scored on a fastbreak opportunity.
A jumper by Kendrick slowed the Lady Beavers down for just a second. Fullerton took advantage of several Montcalm turnovers with two more fastbreak lay-ups.
Sims closed out the quarter with a three and lay-up to make it 45-12.
Both teams went to their benches in the fourth quarter. The teams traded baskets in the final eight minutes with Bluefield’s lead growing to as many as 39 points.
“We got a lot of kids playing time tonight,” Mallamaci said. “We really don’t have enough to have a full JV. Anytime we can get these kids in, we like to get them in as much as we can. They come to practice every day and we want to reward them with playing time.”
Fullerton led Bluefield with 16 points and four steals. Sims chipped in with 10 points and Jackson had nine points.
Kelley’s seven points paced Montcalm. Kendrick and Megan Coleman each had five points.
“The girls play hard night in, night out,” McPherson said. “We settled down a little and saw where there were holes in the defense. We did a little better job executing toward the end. Hopefully next time when they come to our place, we’ll be a little more prepared for them and ready.”
Montcalm travels to Meadow Bridge on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tilt. Bluefield visits PikeView on Friday night.
“They always put a lot pressure on you,” Mallamaci said of PikeView. “They’re a good man-to-man team. They play some zone, but they’re primarily a man-to-man team. We can’t get the ‘deer in the headlight’ look and run our offense.
“If we do that and compete defensively, I believe we can play with them. If we don’t, they could blow us out.”
At Brushfork Armory
Miranda Kendrick 5, Leslie Kelly 7, Hannah Johnson 2, Megan Coleman 5. Totals- 6 5-10 19.
Kaityln Thompson 1, Destiney Sims 10, Tyra Jackson 9, Khadijah Brown 7, Jessica Hayden 4, Jesslyn Fullerton 16, Teryn Auville 3, Courtney Auville 2, Abby Atwell 2, Shelia Hopkins 2. Totals- 24 4-6 56.
Montcalm..............................0 7 5 8 — 18
Bluefield...............................19 7 19 11 — 56
3 pt field goals: M 2 (Kelley, Kendrick), BLU 4 (Sims 2, Fullerton, T. Auville).