By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The PikeView Lady Panthers used a lot of Hope along with the determination a Hatfield battling a McCoy to win the West Virginia Class AA Region 3, Section 2 championship, Thursday night at Princeton Senior High School.
Hope Nester and Lyndsay Hatfield each scored 20 points to lead the Lady Panthers to a 69-50 win over the Bluefield Lady Beavers.
It marked the second consecutive sectional championship for PikeView, who will host Summers County next Wednesday in regional play. Bluefield will travel to Westside to take on the defending state champions in a regional game. Winners of those games will advance to the state tournament in two weeks.
Things were rough for both teams at the onset of the game.
After the opening tip Bluefield shot an air ball, PikeView traveled and then Bluefield gave it up on steps before Alexis May gave the Lady Panthers a 3-0 lead on a three from the right wing. Bluefield answered with a three by Destiney Sims to tie the game and after the Lady Beavers forced a tie at five, Bluefield took its first and what proved to be its only lead at 7-5.
PikeView used the long ball in the opening quarter, also getting threes from Nester and Hatfield and led 17-11 after eight minutes of play.
Nester took over offensively for PikeView in the second quarter, driving the lane and going to the free throw line where she made five-of-eight charity tosses.
Bluefield, however, would not go away. Down by seven midway through the period, the Lady Beavers fed it down low to Tyra Jackson who had four baskets, and Shelia Hopkins, who scored three buckets along with a free throw in the stanza. Bluefield pulled to within one with 90 seconds left in the half and that was the margin at the half, as a Lady Beavers’ shot at the buzzer failed to drop.
PikeView took command in the third thanks to the play of Hatfield who had three treys, two free throws and a field goal in the third quarter. Bluefield struggled, able to make only three baskets from the field along with three free throws and PikeView led 49-39 after three.
The Lady Beavers’ shooting woes from the field continued in the final frame as they could not connect in transition, in the paint, or from the perimeter and PikeView’s lead grew as high as 20 points. Nester had a hot hand for the Lady Panthers and Courtney White came off the bench to drop in two baskets.
In the end the PikeView defense proved to be too much for Bluefield and the Lady Panthers hoisted the sectional championship plaque for the second straight year.
“We take pride in our defense and we try to tell the girls that the defense will spur the offense,” said PikeView head coach Karen Miller. “We work on our fundamentals in practice and it worked out for us tonight. We’re proud of them. The first half was nip-and-tuck and finally we got that good lead and then we coasted through the second half.”
Nester and Hatfield were the only Lady Panthers to reach double-digit scoring, each with 20 points.
A trio of Lady Beavers scored in double-figures led by Sims with 15, Hopkins with 13 and Jackson with 11.
“We were trying to get the ball inside. They (PikeView) did a good job keeping the ball out of the post,” said Bluefield head coach Tony Mallamaci. “The first half we did a pretty good job of getting it in and then the second half they put the pressure on our guards who couldn’t feed the post.”
Both coaches sang the praises of their sectional opponent.
“They (PikeView) just have so many good athletes and they wear you down,” Mallamaci said. “They are very athletic and fundamentally sound. They made some key shots and had some run-outs. They’re a heck of a good team.”
Miller said, “Bluefield has really improved. I was really worried about their guards and we just kept a lot of pressure on them. Coco (Sheila Hopkins) had an excellent first half, but not much the second half.”
Both teams return to the practice court in preparation for next week’s regional games. The Lady Panthers and Lady Beavers both stand one win from the state tournament.
PikeView split a pair of games with Summers County, winning by four in Gardner and losing by four on the Bobcats’ home court.
Bluefield did not play Westside, the defending Class AA champions, in the regular season.
At Princeton Senior High School
Kaitlyn Thompson 0 1-2 1, Deja Taxley 0 2-2 2, Jesslyn Fullerton 1 0-0 3, Tyra Jackson 5 1-2 11, Jessica Hayden 0 0-0 0, Dazia Edwards 1 3-4 5, Destiney Sims 6 2-2 15, Khadijah Brown 0 0-0 0, Sheila Hopkins 6 1-2 13, Totals 19 10-14 50.
Laura Hill 1 1-2 3, Bethany Bryant 0 0-0 0, Hope Nester 6 5-6 20, Madison May 1 2-2 4, Lauryn Hatfield 2 2-2 6, Crysta Meekis 1 0-0 2, Katelyn Shrewsbury 0 0-0 0, Alexis May 2 0-2 5, Lyndsay Hatfield 7 2-3 20, Courtney White 3 1-1 7, Katelyn Odle 0 0-0 0, Savanah Runion 1 0-2 2, Totals 24 13-20 69.
Bluefield................................11 19 9 11 — 50
PikeView..............................17 14 18 20 — 69
3-point baskets: BLF - 2 (Sims, Fullerton); PV - 8 (Nester 3, A. May, Lyndsay Hatfield 4). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None.