Bummed Beavers
Bluefield (35) Vs. Summers County (38)
Mar 03, 2016
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BRUSHFORK — Eat your vegetables and you’ll grow up big and strong. Hit your foul shots and you’ll win big games.
Mom wasn’t lying. Neither was your basketball coach.
Summers County went 25-of-31 from the free throw line, 14-for-16 at crunch time in the critical fourth quarter, and Summers County held off Bluefield 38-35 in Thursday’s Region 3 girls basketball co-final at the Brushfork Armory.
The victory ended the season for the Lady Beavers (15-7) while sending the Lady Bobcats (22-2) to next week’s Class AA state tournament in Charleston.
“We were determined and we hung in there. We had some kids that played minutes they normally don’t play for us and some strange lineups. But we had a lot of determination,” said Summers County coach Wayne Ryan, whose team lagged 17-12 at the half after hitting only one field goal over the first two quarters.
Whittney Justice led the Lady Bobcats with 16 points, all but four of which were derived from a perfect 12-for-12 showing at the foul line.
She hit nothing from the field until the fourth quarter, driving the baseline for a tall floater at 6:53 and then finishing a transition layup off a steal by twin sister Brittney to cut Bluefield’s lead to 28-26 with 6:41 to play.
Summers County had trailed since Alyssa Lester’s backcourt layup off a Jia Coppola steal put Bluefield up 13-12 with 4:20 remaining in the second quarter. Hannah Taylor, who hit 10-of-15 free throws on her way to 14 points, finally gave Summers County the lead for good, 30-29, with her two foul shots with 3:09 remaining in the game.
“If we can get you spread a little bit our guards are really good and they’re hard to defend in space. If you foul them they’re really good at the foul line. That’s the strength of our team and it really paid off tonight,” Ryan said.
Bluefield’s Dani Janutolo sat down with her fifth foul prior to those shots, taking her length and athleticism out of the end game equation.
Janutolo scored only four points, but was a key defensive obstacle to Summers County. She finished with more than a dozen rebounds.
Coppola, who scored 12 points and flirted with double-digit rebounds, was assessed an offensive foul for her fifth with Bluefield trailing 38-35 with 6.6 seconds showing.
“Give Summers County credit, they played a great game. I’m not going to blame the officiating, but my gosh ... it was so inconsistent,” said Lady Beavers head coach Tony Mallamaci.
“You need a better crew for a game like this. I know that’s going to come across like sour grapes, but I’ve lost before and not blamed referees,” Mallamaci said.
Bluefield shot 12-for-20 at the free throw line, missing the front ends of two consecutive 1-and-1s when it trailed by a point early in the final two minutes of play.
Even after losing Coppola, however, the Lady Beavers had one last chance to throw the game into overtime.
Following the Bobcats timeout with 6.6 seconds showing, Taylor made the in-bounds pass to Whitney Justice but Bluefield’s Emaleigh Gallinger somehow managed to force a Justice turnover out-of-bounds with 5.3 seconds still on the clock.
The Lady Beavers got the ball in to Lester, who got herself open for a desperation 3-pointer. She’d hit five field goals for 10 points on the night, but her clutch trifecta attempt went in and out. It was over.
“No disrespect to Summers County. The Justice girls are great ball players and Coach Ryan is a great coach. I wish them well. But I thought our girls deserved better,” said Mallamaci.
Janutolo was injured with 2.1 seconds remaining before the half, landing hard on the floor while taking a spill on a rebound. She was the last Lady Beaver out of the locker room and looked fairly ginger in the opening minutes of the second half, but quickly got back up to speed.
“I felt a very bad pinch in my back. It felt like a knife had went in. But after it numbed up a little bit it got better and I knew I had to get out there really fast,” said Janutolo, a sophomore.
“We had a bunch of different defensive plans we wanted to use on Summers County because they like to drive in and shoot layups. I thought tonight we worked pretty hard on the defenses we did use and I thought they were great,” she said. “I guess we could have done better.”

At Brushfork Armory
Hannah Taylor 2 10-15 14, Morgan Miller 1 0-0 3, Tiffani Cline 0 0-0 0, Brittney Justice 1 3-4 5, Whittney Justice 2 12-12 16, Jordan Sigman 0 0-0 0, Kristin Berry 0 0-0 0, Nicole Lin 0 0-0 0. Totals 6 25-31 38.
Autumn Spangler 1 2-5 4, Alyssa Lester 5 0-0 10, Jia Coppola 2 8-11 12, Emaleigh Gallinger 1 0-0 3, Dani Janutolo 2 0-1 4, Abby Atwell 0 2-3 2, Emilee Beggs 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 12-20 35.
Summers County.......6 6 10 16 — 38
Bluefield.....................9 10 7 9 — 35
3-point goals: Summers County 1 (Miller), Bluefield 1 (Gallinger).
Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
Bluefield 9 10 7 9 0 35
Summers County 6 6 10 16 0 38
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