Westside’s shooting stars carried the Renegades to the sectioncal championship.
Corey Bowles scored 18 of his 28 points in the first half and Justin Cogar had 19 of his 24 markers in the second half as AA No. 6 WHS topped No. 4 Wyoming East, 83-75, in the Region 3, Section 1 title game on Friday night at a packed Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center.
“I love shooting in this gym,” said Bowles, who had four treys in the first half and six on the night. “This and Logan are my favorite places (to shoot).”
The first three meetings between the rivals had been decided in the final minutes, and it looked as if that would be the case again when the third quarter ended in a 53-53 deadlock.
But the Renegades grabbed control by scoring the first six points of the final period Will Fox hit a 15 footer, a three and a foul shot to push WHS to a 59-53 edge.
It was 63-57 when Larry Cook scored inside off a dish from Bowles and Cogar connected. That gave the Renegades (17-7) at 10-point lead with 3:13 to play.
Austin Canada hit a three for East. Bowles replied with his last on the night, and Westside didn’t let the Warriors get closer than eight after that.
Bowles said the team dealt with recent adversity like a family. “It brings you closer together,” he commented.
“I really think we went out and accomplished most of what we wanted to accomplish,” said Renegades coach Nick Cook. “It wasn’t perfect—there were place we could have rebounded and defended a little better—but it was pretty good.”
Taron Ayers had a game-high 31 points for the Warriors, but East coach Rory Chapman said the defense was less effective.
Transition defense was part of the issue, he said. “That’s the first time all year we’ve given up 80 points,” he noted. “When you give up 80 points in AA ball, you’re going to get beat.”
The first three quarters were close, with neither team ever leading by more than five. But the Renegades had a big advantage beyond the arc, hitting eight first half three to East’s one.
Ayers made a lay up and two foul shots late in the first to give East a 21-17 edge.
A 9-2 Westside run, which included a Justin Kenneda trey, moved the Renegades into a 29-25 edge.
The Warriors (17-5) scored seven straight to go up, 32-29.
The Renegades responded with their own 7-0 spurt, capped by Bowles hitting a three at the horn to make it 36-32.
Westside opened the third quarter by getting the ball inside to Cogar, who converted or drew the foul on almost every occasion.
“Justin was a man,” Cook said. “I bet he head 20 rebounds.”
There were four ties in the third stanza.
East took its lead lead, 53-51, when Ayers scored off a dish from Canada.
Fox tied it with two free throws, setting up the finish.
Canada (17) and Christian Hedinger (15) joined Ayers in leading the East scoring.
Westside will host PikeView (13-9) this Thursday in the regionals.
“We’re expect a tough game,” Cook said. “We’re going to work hard to get ready to play them.”
East will travel to Bluefield to face the defending state champions. “We’re just going to strap it up and get ready for Bluefield,” Chapman remarked.