By Dave Morrison
CHARLESTON – PikeView wasn’t quite ready for the Karen Miller Retirement Tour to end.
So the Panthers decided to extend their stay in Charleston a few days more.
Laken McKinney and Shiloh Bailey combined for 40 points and 30 rebounds and No. 6 seed PikeView beat defending Class AA state champion and three seed Fairmont Senior 59-55 Wednesday morning at the Civic Center.
McKInney, who signed with WVU Tech in Beckley, had 25 points and 18 rebounds and Bailey added a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
“We knew it was do-or-die,” McKinney said. “We wanted to do it for the five seniors but we wanted to do it for coach Miller because this is our last chance.”
McKinney poured in 25 points and grabbed 18 rebounds and Bailey had 15 points and 12 rebounds.
“We came into this knowing that we didn’t have a chance to come back here and she doesn’t either,” Bailey said. “So I think that really pushed us to do our best and come out here and regardless, leave it all on the court, and that’s what we did.”
“We all love coach Miller, she’s the best,” senior Olivia Boggess said. “One of the best people that I know. We wanted to do it for each other, but for coach Miller for sure. She’s awesome and always brings smiles to our faces. It was a whole different mentality going out there wanting this each other and wanting it for her.”
PikeView got off to a slow start, trailing 8-2, a fact Miller attributed to the jitters of playing at Charleston for the first time.
But the Lady Panthers rebounded and took the lead at the end of the first quarter, 12-10, and led by three at the break, 29-26.
The Panthers ran the lead to nine in the fourth quarter but Fairmont fought back to keep it within a one-possession game late. They just couldn’t hit a big shot when they needed it.
Miller wasn’t surprised by her team’s grit. She’s seen it, especially of late.
“This team has so much heart,” Miller said. “In the last month they’ve stepped their game up. You could just see it in their eyes. Not only did they want to come down here and play in one of these games, they wanted to win. When you bring a team up here with no experience you don’t know what to expect. I’m just so proud of them.”
PikeView has now won eight straight since losing to University and Spring Valley at the Big Atlantic in Beckley in late January.
Miller said she announced her retirement from teaching full time last year but wanted to come back to see these seniors off.
“I definitely wanted to come back with this group of seniors,” Miler said. “They are special to me. You know, I teach special ed students. And they come in a intermingle with them. It is amazing how special my ball players are to my students that I teach.”
She said this victory would rank No. 1 in her career.
“This would rank No. 1,” Miller said. “When you’re playing a Fairmont team, a team that has been up here and won state championships. It has to be the top.”
But it can be topped.
“Yes,” he said, smiling. “The girls, the way we are playing, I think Saturday. I think we have a chance to be playing on Saturday.”
Wednesday was the Panthers first state tournament appearance since 2013.
Fairmont was led by sophomore phenom Marley Washenitz, who had 22 points, and 11 rebounds.Morgan Lilley had 16.
Fairmont had beaten PikeView on Dec. 21, 70-56.
The Panthers will now face No. 2 seed Winfield, which defeated Westside 81-38, Friday at 9:30 a.m.
PikeView 59, Fairmont 55
Olivia Boggess 2-5 0-3 5, Hope Craft 0-2 0-0 0, Shiloh Bailey 7-13 1-4 15, Laken McKinney 10-14 5-10 25, Makenzee Shrewsbury 2-7 0-0 5, Hannah Perdue 3-8 0-2 6, Anyah Brown 1-5 1-1 3. TOTALS: 25-54 7-20 59.
Emily Starn 1-8 0-0 2, Reagan Blasher 2-9 3-4 7, Marley Washenitz 10-25 2-4 22, Rebekah Jenkins 1-8 0-0 2, Morgan Lilley 6-14 4-11 16, Laynie Beresford 0-3 1-4 1, Kiara Cosby 2-3 0-0 4, Alli Broughton 0-0 0-0 0, Keyonna Hilson 0-2 0-0 0, Makayla Lilley 0-1 1-2 1. TOTALS: 22-73 11-25 55
PikeView 12 17 12 18 – 59
Fairmont 10 16 15 14 – 55
Three-point field goals – PV: 2-4 (Bogges 1-2 Shrewsbury 1-2), F: 0-12 (Starn 0-2, Blasher 0-2, Washenitz 0-5, Jenkins 0-2, Hilson 0-1). Rebounds – PV: 52 (McKinney 18, Bailey 12), F: 45 (Washenitz 11, Mo. Lilley 13), Assists – PV: 12 (Perdue 5), F: 6 (Washenitz 3). Fouled out – F: Jenkins.