BIG STONE GAP — Not even the coaches of the basketball teams involved seem to know exactly where their squads stand in the pursuit of a spot in either of the Region D brackets.
Monday night’s result could make the postseason path of the Appalachia girls a little easier. With a 42-37 victory over archrival Powell Valley, the Lady Bulldogs advanced to the semifinals of the Lonesome Pine District tournament and picked up some invaluable power points in the process.
Pound joined Appalachia in the semis, defeating Clintwood 56-41 in the first-round nightcap at Powell Valley.
Appalachia (11-12) meets unbeaten and No. 1-ranked J.I. Burton in Wednesday’s semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Pound takes on J.J. Kelly in the second semifinal, scheduled for an approximate 8 p.m. tipoff.
Appalachia coach Angie Honeycutt didn’t know what Monday’s win meant to her team’s regional status. She only knew it helped.
“We’ve been on the bubble every year since divisional play,” Honeycutt said. “We’re at a disadvantage in the LPD. You can go outside the district and beat teams in your division and still not get to go.”
Both teams had trouble getting going in the first half — particularly Powell Valley (12-10). Appalachia led 12-9 at the break, after the Lady Vikings went the entire second quarter without scoring. Powell Valley’s drought from the field nearly encompassed 12 minutes of basketball, with Tasha Trent’s coast-to-coast drive just before the four-minute mark of the third period ending the futility.
Despite the prolonged offensive funk, Trent’s layup made it a 17-14 ballgame. The Vikes took the lead on Lauren Schoolcraft’s inside bucket and held a 25-19 advantage through three periods.
A pair of 3-pointers by Hanna Grosshennig got Appalachia back within striking distance, and buckets by Chelsey Boyd and Christa Fisher staked the Lady Bulldogs to a 35-32 lead. Erica Boggs and Teryn Mullins combined for seven points in the final 90 seconds as Appalachia wrapped up a crucial win.
“When we do what we’re supposed to, we’re pretty good,” Honeycutt said. “When we don’t, we look like a junior varsity team or even a little league team at times.”
Boggs had 12 points to lead Appalachia. Grosshennig finished with 11 and Boyd nine. Mullins scored six points, but also spent her time hustling for rebounds, handling the ball, cutting off passing lanes and swiping steals.
“She was all over the floor,” Honeycutt said of Mullins. “She needs to have more confidence about driving. When she does, good things happen.”
Trent had 14 points before fouling out, and led three Lady Vikings in double figures. Cassie Chadwell added 11 points and Schoolcraft 10.
“We’re used to scoring around 60 points a night,” Powell Valley coach Amanda Breeding said. “Our focus wasn’t here tonight. We were kind of just going through the motions.”
Pound (15-8) led Clintwood for the entirety, opening the game with an 11-2 spurt. The Lady Greenwave pulled within six points in the second quarter and seven points in the fourth, but that was close as it got.
Samantha Balthis scored 23 for the Lady Wildcats, who went 20-of-27 at the line. Jenna Stallard did most of the work there, sinking 10 of her 12 tries en route to a 13-point night.
Kelly Blankenship’s 12 points paced Clintwood (5-17) in its final game of the season.