Westside’s second half rally led to its first BAC championship in nine years.
The AA No. 5 Renegades held No. 3 Wyoming East to three points over a span of nine minutes and Justin Cogar scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half as Westside scratched out a 61-57 win on Saturday in Beckley.
Renegades coach Nick Cook said tempo made the difference.
East dominated the first half, keeping the game in the half court and leading by as much as 14.
“They run their half-court sets as well as anybody we play,” Cook commented.
Midway through the third quarter, the Renegades began to force the issue to take the Warriors out of their comfort zone.
“We used some traps and presses, and we started to get some rebounds,” Cook said.
A Levi Lambert lay up and Cogar’s five footer from the left side cut a nine-point deficit to five at 42-37.
John Morgan scored for East. Cogar answered with two buckets inside to make it 44-41.
It was 45-43 at the end of the third.
Corey Bowles hit a three from the left corner to put WHS in front for the first time since it was 6-5 in the opening quarter.
The Renegades pushed the lead to 53-48. East tied it when sophomore Logan Blankenship stole the ball and converted a three-point play with 1:26 to go.
Will Fox drove in and connected from close range with a minute left to give Westside the lead for good.
A Bowles three-point play with 27 ticks left clinched it.
“Our effort was excellent in the second half,” Cook remarked. “We did all the things we didn’t do in the first half.”
The Warriors controlled the first two quarters with three-point shooting and rebounding. A 10-0 run in the second perioid, sparked by two treys from Austin Canada and another by Blankenship, gave East its biggest lead at 28-14.
WEHS had a 21-8 advantage on the glass in the first half.
Westside allowed the Warriors just one field goal and three points from the 5:01 mark of the third quarter to the 3:46 mark of the fourth.
“We have spells where we go cold,” said East coach Rory Chapman. “And we turned the ball over.”
The Renegades also held their own on the boards, with each team having 13 after the break.
Cogar and Bowles had 16 points each for Westside. Justin Kenneda had 11 points and six rebounds.
Blankenship, a sophomore guard, had a career-high 18.
“Last summer he worked his tail off in the weight room,” Chapman said.”He wants to get better.”
Canada scored 15 and had five assists. Hedinger added 12 points and eight rebounds.
Westside beat No. 2 Bluefield earlier in the week, and Cook says his team benefitted from the week off caused by bad weather.
“We talked with the kids and looked at things from a different perspective,” he noted.
Both teams are now 9-2 and will meet again this Friday at New Richmond.
Game notes: Wyoming County teams have won the AA title at the BAC 12 times in the last 14 years … It was the first time the two county teams have met in the BAC final … East has added Mount Mission, Va., to its schedule. The teams will play on Tuesday at Grundy, Va… . The Renegades last won the Big Atlantic Classic in 2005 with a one-point victory over Winfield.