APPALACHIA — They’re still celebrating Christmas in Norton this week. In part because J.I. Burton’s Ra’Shelle Miller is the gifted gift that keeps on giving.
The mighty Miller recorded the first triple-double of her career — 21 points, 13 rebounds and 10 steals — as the Lady Raiders blasted Rye Cove 62-26 in Alpha Natural Resources Coal Classic girls semifinal action Monday night.
J.I. Burton (7-0), which won last year’s Coal Classic crown, will face J.J. Kelly (7-1) in Wednesday’s 7 p.m. title match.
“The thing we try to stress is that every game is different,” said Lady Raiders coach Mike Goforth. “We still work hard in practice and we still work to get better. Because I still don’t think we’re as good as we can be.”
The multifaceted Miller had previously flirted with a triple-double with assists forming the third leg of the near-tripod.
“It’s good to have points, but it’s better to have points and assists. It helps our team when other people have the chance to score,” said Miller, who took advantage of three opportunities to dish off Monday night.
Brianna Stallard had 16 points and seven rebounds for Burton. Sheniqua Woods distributed six assists to go with six points and four steals.
The Lady Eagles (1-8) got eight points from Shasta Edwards and seven from Paige Tester. Rye Cove, which for the second straight year has seen its promise dimmed by multiple injuries, lost top shooter Jasmine Carter for the season with an ACL injury last week.
Rye Cove coach Jamie Carter complimented Burton’s defensive effort, but thought his team missed easy shots that could’ve raised its score into the 40s.
“It’s been one thing after another,” Carter said. “We’re starting to heal up a little bit, but we’re so out of sync.”
The J.J. Kelly girls advanced to the finals with a 55-45 win over Appalachia.
“It was an ugly game on our part, but Appalachia had a lot to do with it. They’re scrappy and they’re fighters,” said Lady Indians coach Robin Dotson, who bullied the Lady Bulldogs down low with 6-foot-2 posts Allison and Ashley Mullins.
The identical twins’ contributions weren’t identical but were equally significant. Allison Mullins pulled down 16 rebounds to go with six points, a block and three assists. Ashley Mullins had 14 points, also getting seven rebounds, a block and three steals.
Andrea Hopkins led Kelly with 15 points and five assists while Kaely Mullins had 14 points and five boards.
Teryn Mullins scored 14 to lead Appalachia (5-3) while Chelsea Boyd and Hanna Grosshennig had 10 points apiece.
“We played hard, we’ve just got to learn to play a little bit smarter,” said Appalachia coach Angela Honeycutt. “It’s hard to box out those big girls, but they got a lot of second-chance shots underneath the basket. We need to do better than that.”
In Coal Classic boys action, Steven Couch scored 14 points while Brandon Taylor added 10 as Harlan (3-5) outgunned Rye Cove 67-41. Devon Wells scored 13 to lead the War Eagles (0-8). Appalachia got 17 points and seven rebounds from Forrest Stuart while Mladen Bogicevic scored 16 points with 11 rebounds in a 49-33 win over Lee High. Caleb Bledsoe scored 15 for the Generals (3-3) while Tyler Maggard added 11.
In other girls games, Samantha Balthus scored 18 points as Pound beat Coeburn 58-52 while Lauren Schoolcraft fired up 28 points to lead Powell Valley in a 71-52 win over St. Paul.