A blistering start launched Westside into the semifinals.
The Renegades transition game and three-point shooting pushed them to a 15-point lead early, and they held off persistent Bridgeport, 65-58, in the opening round of the Class AA state tournament on Wednesday night at the Charleston Civic Center.
Junior guard Will Fox came within a hair of a triple-double and Corey Bowles and Justin Cogar combined for 39 points as the Renegades moved into the state semis for the first time since 2005.
“Will Fox had one of the best performances I’ve ever seen anywhere,” said WHS coach Nick Cook.
Fox (17 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds) passed with laser like accuracy as Westside had the transition game clicking for the first ten minutes.
He hit a three and found Bowles open under the basket as the Renegades rolled to an 11-2 lead and forced the Indians (18-8) to call time less than three minutes into the game.
Cogar had a lay up and Bowles hit a trey from the right wing as the margin swelled to 16-4.
“We came out really strong,” Cook observed.
Cogar (17 points, 12 boards) sank a three as the lead went to 21-8.
It was 25-12 after one quarter, and WHS took its biggest lead, 33-18, on a Fox drive through lane.
Despite the big early deficit, Bridgeport coach Mike Robey thought his team would battle back.
“I didn’t think we were going to get run off the floor,” he remarked. “We changed what we were doing on defense and that got us back into the game.”
Bridgeport used penetration to the bucket for high percentage shots to make its comeback.
The Indians scored the last six points of the first half, including Dante Bonamico’s lay up at the buzzer off a long pass from Ryan Sprouse, to make it 37-32.
“That’s a play we work on for the end of games,” Sprouse commented.
The teams traded buckets through most of the third period.
When Bridgeport pulled within 39-36, Justin Kenneda hit a three from the left side to push the lead back to six.
Bowles hit an eight-footer from the right side to give Westside a 50-44 advantage going into the final quarter.
Westside’s big rebounding advantage (43-26) was a key factor in the win.
Cogar had s stick back with 6:18 to play to make it 52-46.
“Justin is a beast (on the boards), and when our other guys rebound, we’re hard to beat,” said Cook.
“There were four or five times we had (Cogar) blocked, and he still got the rebound,” Robey remarked.
The Indians got within three several times in the final quarter but never got closer.
“We executed pretty well down the stretch.” stated Cook.
Bowles went three for four at the line as WHS took a 59-53 edge with 1:11 left.
Chase Robey hit Bridgeport’s only three-pointer of the night to get the Indians with 59-56.
Two foul shots and a lay up from Fox made it 63-56.
Cook said his team has been in tight games all year. “They don’t panic, and they don’t get flustered,” he commented.
Bowles (22), Cogar and Fox led the scoring for WHS.
John Wilfong had 24 for Bridgeport, followed by Bonamico (14) and Sprouse (10).
Westside next faces top seed Robert C. Byrd.
“We’ll have to do a lot better job of keeping them out of the paint (than we did against Bridgeport,” said Cook.
RCB handed WHS its only lopsided loss during the regular season.
“We take it personally,” Cogar commented.
RCB beat East Fairmont, 65-34, in the quarterfinals.
Game time is 1 p.m. The winner will face the Bluefield-Poca winner in the championship game. on Saturday.
John Conley can be reached at 304-732-6060 or on Twitter @PIHnews.
Bridgeport 12 20 12 14-58
Westside25 12 13 15-65
Donald Kummer 0-4 0-0 0, Dante Bonamico 7-14 0-0 14, Chase Robey 2-8 1-1 6, John Wilfong 12-22 0-2 24, Ryan Sprouse4-7 2-2 10, Logan Smith 0-2 0-0 0, Hunter Haddix 2-6 0-0 4, Mackenzie Holemes 0-0 0-0 0.
Totals: 27-63 3-5 58
Will Fox 7-12 2-2 17, Jordan Browning 1-5 0-0 2, Corey Bowles 7-12 7-8 22, Justin Kenneda 1-12 0-0 3, Justin Cogar 8-11 0-1 17, Larry Cook 2-3 0-0 4, Scott Jenkins 0-0 0-0 0.
Totals: 26-55 9-11 65
Three-point goals: B 1 (Robey), W 4 (Fox, Bowles, Kenneda, Cogar), Rebounds: B 26 (Bonamico 7), W 43 (Cogar 12), Assists: B 13 (Kummer 5), W 15 (Fox 10).
Photo: Westside coach Nick Cook (left) and Will Fox at the media interview session after the Bridgeport game.