Down five to its arch rival with less than three minutes left on the road, Wyoming East’s odds didn’t look good.
The AA No. 6 Warriors didn’t see it that way.
They went on a 12-2 run in a span of 1:33 and went on to top No. 3 Westside, 79-71, on Saturday night before an SOR crowd at Clear Fork.
“Our kids are tough,” said East coach Rory Chapman. “I think we work as hard anybody, and the hard work paid off.”
The Renegades (4-1) took their biggest lead of the game with a 7-0 run fueled by a Will Fox three-pointer and two Corey Bowles buckets to make it 66-61.
“I called time and told our kids whoever wants it the most these last two minutes will win this game,” Chapman commented.
It was 68-63 when East started the key spurt.
Jordan Hayes made a foul shot, and Austin Canada’s fifth three of the night cut the margin to 68-67.
Canada made two foul shots with 1:46 to play to put the Warriors in front for good.
Hayes scored on a follow shot and pulled in a long pass from Logan Blankenship to score again. That made it 73-68 with 1:05 to go.
Fox hit a three from the right side to cut the margin to two.
But East answered with two Canada free throws and a John Morgan layup to settle the issue.
“Give Wyoming East credit,” said WHS coach Nick Cook. “They out rebounded us, they out hustled us and got to every loose ball. They wanted it more than we did.”
Canada and Hayes both had career nights with 38 and 19 respectively.
The game was postponed from Friday due to severe cold, then moved to Clear Fork on Saturday.
“It didn’t really matter, we have to come here anyway,” Canada commented.
The senior guard carried the East offense on his back in the first half, hitting four threes. His third one gave the Warriors their biggest lead of the night at 18-7.
They stayed in front until Westside surged with an 11-2 run.
Bowles, who led WHS with 24, had a steal and layup to tie it at 32-32 and then put his team ahead with a drive to the bucket during the final minute of the half.
“We knew they would key on Austin in the second half, so we talked about some offensive sets we could use to get the ball to Jordan,” Chapman said.
Hayes responded with 14 second half points.
“My coaches and teammates believe in me,” remarked Hayes. “They boost my confidence.”
The Warriors went back to Canada late in the game. He went 6-8 at the stripe and had 13 points in the final quarter.
“I like to have the ball in my hands at crunch time, but my teammates can score too,” he said.
Chapman called Canada the team offensive leader and senior Christian Hedinger, who guarded Renegades star Justin Cogar, the defensive leader.
“With a five point lead with two and a half minutes left, and with the experience we have, we should win the game,” Cook said. “I hope they learned that you have to come to play and make the effort every night.”
“Our goal is to improve every game,” Chapman observed. “This is our fourth game, and so far we’ve play better each game.”
In addition to Canada and Hayes, East got seven each from Hedinger and Logan Blankenship, six from Morgan and two from David Carte.
Bowles, Fox (13), Levi Lambert (12) and Justin Kenneda (10) paced WHS.
Westside travels to Liberty on Tuesday and East visits Summers County on Wednesday.
Photo: Christian Hedinger and Jordan Hayes (34) of Wyoming East guard Westside’s Corey Bowles (left) as he brings the ball up the court in Saturday’s game at Clear Fork.