Eager Beavers
Bluefield (54) Vs. PikeView (47)
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
PRINCETON — In Thursday night’s Class AA, Region 3, Section 2 girls basketball championship game at Princeton High School, Bluefield and PikeView scrapped for every possession and loose ball.
In the end, the Lady Beavers scrapped just a little bit harder.
Dani Janutolo scored 17 points and Bluefield outlasted the Lady Panthers 54-47 for their third consecutive sectional championship.
“The last three minutes were really hectic. It was really nerve-wracking,” said Janutolo. “But we worked together as a team when it got down to it.”
The win gives Bluefield (16-5) the home court advantage in Thursday’s regional showdown with Summers County. PikeView (11-10) will travel the same night to face Wyoming East.
Madison May scored a hard-fought 25 points for PikeView and Ashley Scott finished with 11 while Brittany Moore was confined to zero.
“The old adage... defense wins championships. You’ve got to play good defense this time of the year. I guess we played good enough to pull it out,” said Lady Beavers head coach Tony Mallamaci. “PikeView is a heck of a team. Very well coached. Good players. A good program. It’s always a good battle when we play each other.”
Bluefield trailed 12-7 after the first quarter, led 22-19 at the half and took a 10-point lead early in the third quarter only to see it collapse under a surge by May and Scott, who claimed the 30-29 lead for the Lady Panthers with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter.
Bluefield fought its way back to a 10-point lead by Janutolo’s transition layup with 7:01 remaining in the game. It proved cushion enough to weather the endgame storm.
PikeView threatened to within 50-47 with 1:05 left to play on a stick-back by Kaleigh Payton, who finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Lady Panthers.
A trey could still cover the margin with 26 seconds showing when the front end of Jia Coppola 1-and-1 rimmed out. Emaleigh Gallinger’s rebound prolonged the crucial possession, which ended with a pair of free throws by Alyssa Lester seconds later.
Gallinger, who finished with eight points, had a nice kick to Coppola for an assist early in the fourth frame. But her main contributions were on the defensive end.
“Our main goal was to come out on the shooters ... Madison, Scott and sometimes Moore ... and we were transitioning and helping on defense and just packing the zone,” said Gallinger, whose deflection helped end PikeVille’s last viable possession.
Janutolo came up with the loose ball on that one and sank a pair of free throws with seven seconds remaining that finally put the contentious game on ice.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. We had a lot of chances and we had some bad breaks,” said PikeView head coach Karen Miller. “But I’m proud of our girls. Bluefield’s got a heck of a team. They’re seventh in the state for a reason. My girls came out and gave everything they had and that’s all you can ask.”
Mallamaci, whose team struggled offensively in the halfcourt and relied heavily on transition for its points, said his team had cooked up some special defensive looks for May in practice.
Ultimately, the Lady Beavers got by on their bread and butter.
“We worked on a couple of different things but we really didn’t try any of them. We just went to our basic 3-2 (zone) and tried to suck her in and corral her. We had a couple gimmicks ready if we needed it but didn’t feel like going for it,” Mallamaci said.
“What’d she score... 25? She’s one of the best players in the state. What are you going to do with that?” he reflected.

At Coach Ralph Ball Court
PIKEVIEW (11-10)
Brittany Moore 0 0-0 0, Madison May 8 7-8 25, Ashley Scott 3 3-4 11, Hannah Justice 0 0-0 0, Sarah Robinson 0 0-0 0, Sparrow Void 0 1-2 1, Smith 0 0-0 0, Kaleigh Payton 5 0-0 10. Totals 15 11-14 47.
Autumn Spangler 3 1-1 7, Jia Coppola 5 3-5 13, Emaleigh Gallinger 4 0-1 8, Alyssa Lester 3 2-2 9, Abby Atwell 0 0-0 0, Dani Janutolo 7 3-7 17. Totals 22 9-16 54.
PikeView..........12 7 13 15 — 47
Bluefield.............7 15 16 16 — 54
3-point goals: PikeView 4 (May 2, Scott 2). Bluefield 1 (Lester).
Game Scoreboard
Bluefield 7 15 16 16 0 54
PikeView 12 7 13 15 0 47
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