WILLIAMSBURG — The Pineville Lady Lions are the 2021 13th Region All ‘A’ Champions. After leading by as many as 18 points, the Lady Lions held off Jackson County for a 58-50 win in Friday’s championship game.
“It’s great, I’m so happy for our seniors. They’ve come to practice, they’ve given it their all, they don’t ever leave anything out there, they deserve it. I wanted it more for them than I did anything else,” PHS head coach Jamie Mills said.
Senior guard Whitney Caldwell led the Lady Lions with 22 points Friday night and was named the tournament MVP. Senior center Raigan King added 14 points and seven rebounds, sophomore guard Abby Jackson scored nine points, senior guard Virginia Hall finished with eight and senior forward Summer Partin added five points. They were all named to the All-Tournament Team.
Jackson Couny was led by Natalie Carl with 25 points and Kena Ward added 12.
Pineville opened the tournament on Monday with a 70-47 win over Williamsburg. In Thursday’s semifinal they defeated Middlesboro 54-41 to advance to the championship.
“I told them when it started: I don’t want to just win this, I want to win every game by double-figures because I think we’re at that level. We’re a senior-dominated club so take it at them, don’t be happy just beating somebody,” Mills said.
“We really struggled against Middlesboro, but that was the best thing for us. It made us realize that we can lose it just like that. They came out tonight with that fear and they completely turned it right around with better defense, better intensity, made better decisions — they were just focused.”
The Lady Lions got off to a fast start as Caldwell had a basket and four free throws in the opening period, Partin scored five points, Hall four and Jackson hit a 3-pointer. Pineville led 18-11 after one quarter.
King got involved in the second quarter when she scored eight of her points, Caldwell scored nine, including an old fashioned three-point play and Jackson scored in transition as the Lady Lion lead grew to 37-22 by halftime.
“We got on that run right around the second quarter there and that just gave them confidence and it kind of snowballed from there,” Mills said. “We just played solid defense, boxed them out and didn’t give them any second chances. Then we were running out and just making shots. They were having fun and it just kept going.
“Everybody was making shots, everybody was playing great defense. The whole team was playing as a unit and that makes it easier.”
The third quarter saw Hall hit a jumper and later two free throws, King scored three points and Jackson hit another 3 as Pineville led by as many as 18 points and were up 49-33 going into the fourth quarter.
Carl hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 of her points in the fourth quarter to lead a Jackson County comeback. They cut the lead down to 7 at 50-43 with 3:32 to play, but the Lady Lions hit eight of 10 free throws down the stretch to pull out the win.
Overall, Pineville made 21 of 25 from the charity stripe. Caldwell hit 12 of 13 free throws in the game and five of six in the fourth quarter to finish with 22 points despite being chased the entire game as the Lady Generals stayed in a box and one or triangle and two defense.
“We were prepared for that box and one and the triangle and two. We put something simple in just for that and it worked or us,” Mills said.
In Thursday’s semifinal win over Middlesboro, King led the Lady Lions with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Hall added 13 points, Jackson eight, Caldwell six, Ava Arnett six, Partin five and Rachel Howard two.
Middlesboro was led by Keevi Betts with 14 points while Kailey Owens scored 13, Gracie Gent 10, Kamryn Keith two and Anna Myers two.
As 13th Region All ‘A’ champion, Pineville advances to the State All ‘A’ Tournament at Eastern Kentucky University starting on Feb. 15. The Lady Lions will take on the Region 7 champion (likely Whitefield Academy or Louisville Collegiate).
The Lady Lions carried the momentum from winning the tournament over to this week as they beat Corbin 61-46 on Monday and then went on the road for a 71-42 win at Lynn Camp to improve to 5-0 on the season.
Friday’s scheduled game at Knox Central has been cancelled due to COVID-19. Pineville is next scheduled to host Lynn Camp on Friday, Jan. 29.