By Brian Woodson
For The Register-Herald
Call it a 3-peat.
For the third straight season, the PikeView girls basketball team will play in the Class AA state tournament, dominating Summers County in the second half for a 57-38 Region 3 co-final victory in front of a loud and packed audience at PikeView High School on Wednesday night.
“Thanks to everybody who came out the support the Lady Panthers,” PikeView head coach Karen Miller said. “They really appreciate the support.”
They earned it.
PikeView (14-11) began a 15-0 run in the third quarter, built the lead to 23 and rolled through the Bobcats to return to the Charleston for the state quarterfinals next Thursday against an opponent to be determined later this week.
The Panthers actually got their inspiration from a championship horse.
“I am so excited, I know the team is so excited, we were very determined to come out here and win this game,” said PikeView’s Lyndsey Hatfield, one of six sophomores playing for the Panthers. “At the beginning of the game we had a devotional out in the library saying we had to use 22 pounds of our heart like Secretariat did and we did.
“Every single one of us came out strong and we were determined to win.”
Hatfield was just one of several contributors for the Panthers. She had 11 points and an amazing 22 rebounds, while junior point guard Hope Nester led all scorers with 15 points, and also provided four assists and three steals.
Summers County (15-10) led once, at 12-11 on a drive to the basket by Tyra Wynes with 7:24 to go in the second quarter, but the Panthers answered right back, with Nester driving to the bucket to put PikeView up to stay.
That PikeView is back in Charleston is a fitting tribute to a club that has just one senior, Laura Hill, and their leader, Nester, has been playing through pain all season after having knee surgery that forced her to miss the entire soccer season in the fall.
“This is a young team and they started peaking at the right time and we felt that this was the right time and if we could keep improving in different areas that we would be okay,” Miller said. “We came out and played PikeView basketball, our defense and our offense, and we got some key steals and layups and moved the ball around and we had balanced scoring and that made a difference.”
Led by eight second quarter points from sophomore Courtney White, the Panthers took a 28-22 lead at the break. Summers County, which struggled all night with their shots, made just 9-for-34 from the field in the first half, and 15-of-63 for the game.
Wynes had 14 points for the Bobcats, including eight in the second quarter and 10 at the break.
“We came out strong in the third quarter,” Nester said. “It was close in the first and second and we got a little bit of a lead going into the half, but the third quarter we were just pumped, we were ready to go get it and we did.”
Definitely. Baskets by Nester and Alexis May built the lead to 32-22 before the Bobcats cut the lead to six, at 32-26, at the 4:12 mark, and that would be it for Summers County until Avery Pivont drove to the hole with 5:45 to go in the final period.
“It was our defense,” Hatfield said. “Our offense is getting there, but our defense is really what helped us in this game.”
By the time Pivont scored on an assist from Wynes, the Panthers had gone on a 15-0 run, led by seven points from May, as PikeView turned over the Bobcats and went up 47-26 before the Bobcats could score again.
“We changed defenses and it kind of worked for us down there and they didn’t know what to do,” said Miller, whose Panthers beat Summers County 46-43 at home this season and lost on the road 59-55. “When your shots are falling and their shots wasn’t falling, you have got to credit our defense and the girls pushed the ball up the floor and we got some good looks.
“Everybody contributed, it was a big win and the girls are excited about going back up-state.”
May contributed 13 points, five assists and three steals, while White finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds for PikeView. Madison May added seven points and four steals.
About the only negative for PikeView on this night was making just 10-of-30 from the free throw line. The Bobcats were 8 for 16.
Nester admitted to being surprised by the margin of victory, which Miller said may have been the highest for the Panthers over the years against the perennial power Bobcats.
“Definitely not, I didn’t think it was going to be that big, but we played hard and we knew that this game depended on if we were going to state or not,” Nester said. “We have been there two years in a row and we were hungry for it.
“The girls stepped up, the sophomores definitely had a big game for us and that was the switch of the game, the tempo and making good baskets and we are glad to come out with the win.”
Pivont and Emily Smith has six points each for Summers County, which has followed up five straight Class AA state championships by not making the state tournament for a second year in a row.
“It is awesome to get to go,” Miller said. “It puts fuel in the younger girls to work hard, to get better and it is an awesome feeling and they have worked hard for this. We will get ready to play whomever and get ready to go.”
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Summers County (15-10)
Hayley Shrewsbury 0 2-2 2, Avery Pivont 3 0-2 6, Emily Smith 2 2-2 6, Tyra Wynes 7 0-1 14, Brandy Morrison 0 2-2 2, Abby Taylor 1 0-0 2, Brennah Davis 1 2-5 4, Brittany Bonds 1 0-2 2, Aubrey Holley 0 0-0 0, Kaitlyn Thomas 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 8-16 38.
Laura Hill 0 1-2 1, Hope Nester 5 5-9 15, Alexis May 6 1-2 13, Lyndsey Hatfield 5 0-3 11, Courtney White 4 2-11 10, Madison May 3 1-3 7, Lauryn Hatfield 0 0-0 0, Crysta Meekins 0 0-0 0, Katelyn Shrewsbury 0 0-0 0, Bethany Bryant 0 0-0 0, Katelyn Odle 0 0-0 0, Savannah Runion 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 10-30 57.
SC 8 14 4 12 — 38
PV 11 17 15 14 — 57
3-point goals: SC 0; PV 1 (Ly.Hatfield 1). Total fouls: SC 20; PV 18. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none.