GARDNER — A memorable night for one of West Virginia’s pioneer coaches became more memorable on Monday after the PikeView girls basketball team wrapped up a 52-41 victory over a county rival, Bluefield High in the PVHS gym.
Karen Miller, head coach of the Panthers for 24 years, was honored prior to tip-off as the announcement came that she would be retiring from the coaching ranks at the end of the season.
She was presented a rocking chair at midcourt, and sat down for a moment, surrounded by players from past and present.
She was surprised by the ceremony, organized by assistant coach David Coburn, and especially by the number of alumni gathered around her.
“I’m just so humbled,” Miller said after the game.
“I really thank them for coming.”
The pregame ceremony included a moment of silence to honor the memory of PikeView’s first girls basketball coach, Ron Burton, who passed away last week.
PikeView Principal Anna Lilly then presented a certificate to senior Laken McKinney, whose 1,450 points made her the top girls basketball scorer in school history.
McKinney went out and added 22 points, plus 13 rebounds and four blocks, in a game that the Panthers dominated in the paint.
McKinney said about her career recognition, “It’s an honor, because there’s a lot of great players who’ve come through a PikeView.”
She was 10-for-11 from the field and made all three of her free throws.
“I know that’s my role as a player, is to get the rebounds and to score,” she said.
PikeView (12-8) was able to speed up the game against a Bluefield squad that is inexperienced in key spots.
Bluefield (9-10) committed 11 turnovers in the first half, but neither side was hitting its shots. After 16 minutes of action, neither team had led by more than four points and the Panthers held a thin 18-16 advantage.
PikeView scores 20 points in the third period to take control. Bluefield senior Jaisah Smith led a comeback try in the final quarter, cutting PikeView’s lead to 40-36 with 4:39 to go.
Clutch baskets by McKinney and another senior, Hope Craft, helped seal the win for the home team — together with a defense that allowed just two Bluefield field goals the rest of the way.
Craft had 11 points in the contest. Olivia Boggess dished out four assists, and Shiloh Bailey added six points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.
Bluefield got 23 points from Smith, who hit five 3-point goals.
Beyonka Lee contributed nine points and 15 rebounds.
Beavers head coach Ernie Gilliard said, “Our girls fought hard, and we’re proud of that. (PikeView) is a good team that we played here. They’re well coached and they’re very talented and they’re poised.”
“What we have to do is to develop a little more poise, get a little more accurate with our shooting, and continue to fight.”
Tom Bone is a freelance reporter for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and the Princeton Times. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org