Some folks going to Charleston for the state high school basketball tournament stay at the Marriott or Embassy Suites.
Westside reserved its room at the heartbreak hotel.
The Renegades staged a miraculous rally in the final 1:20 of regulation but eventually fell to top seed Robert C. Byrd, 78-73, in the Class AA semifinals on Friday afternoon.
“This was one of the greatest AA games I’ve seen down here in a long time,” said WHS coach Nick Cook. “A lot of people were heading to the exits at the end of the fourth quarter,” he notes. “But these guys never gave up.”
The Renedgades were down, 68-60, after RCB’s Cameron Carvelli sank two free throws with 1:20 to play.
Junior guard Will Fox cut the lead to six when he was fouled on a drive. That made it 68-62.
WHS went into its press and forced a turnover. Fox was fouled again, and his shots cut the margin to 68-64 with 1:04 to go.
RCB guard Luke Dyer walked and Westside’s Corey Bowles scored inside to cut the lead to two with :57 left.
Both teams missed opportunities, but the Renegades got the ball back with :8.9 seconds left.
Fox blew past the defense and tied it up with 1.3 seconds remaining, sending the WHS cheering section into a frenzy.
Cook said Fox was given several options.
“We said if they hesitate (to come out on you), then go to the hole,” he observed. “There was a lot of contact (on the play) but he still got it to go in.”
Carvelli’s three early in the overtime put the Flying Eagles ahead for good.
Westside (20-8) didn’t get closer than one after that.
Carvelli made four foul shots in the final minute to help put the game away.
“These guys scratched and clawed with everything they had in them,” Cook remarked.
“You have to stay composed (in situations like that),” said Renegades center Justin Cogar. “Credit to RCB for taking advantage of our mistakes.”
Westside’s mistakes were few in the first half.
As they did in Wednesday’s quarterfinal with Bridgeport, the Renegades had a strong start.
Bowles hit a three-pointer from straight away, and Cogar connected inside.
Fox sank one from eight feet. By the time Cogar scored again and made it 9-0, RCB (24-0) called time.
The lead went to 15-5 on A Bowles lay up and peaked at 11 on a Bowles three, making it 24-13 late in the quarter.
RCB got a three-point play from Devonti Birch and a trey from Julian Malfregot to slice the deficit to 24-19 by the end of the period.
Luke Dyer’s three early in the second quarter pulled the Eagles within two.
Westside bounced back, Cogar scored off a dish from Justin Kenneda and Kenneda hit two foul shots to stretch the lead back to 32-25.
Kenneda’s free throws with 1:03 left in the half gave Westside a 37-29 halftime edge.
RCB’s second half start mirrored Westside’s first half start.
The Eagles ran off nine straight points, and Birch’s steal and driving lay up gave them their first lead at 38-37.
There were three ties before Dyer hit from 15 feet and 17 feet to put RCB up by 47-43.
Dyer’s hot streak was a key to the Eagles’ rally.
“He had a hand in his face almost every time he shot,” said Cook.
The Eagles scored the last six points of the quarter to take a 55-48 advantage.
Bowles hit a lay up and a trey in the final quarter to close the gap to 59-56.
Carvelli scored inside and Justin Noble hit two buckets as Byrd pushed out to its biggest lead at 65-56.
Bowles had 21 points for the Renegades. Cogar had a double-double with 21 points and 10 boards. He also had four blocks.
Fox scored 20 and dished out seven assists. Kenneda had eight points and five assists.
“I thought Justin Kenneda did a great job on Birch,” Cook commented. “He had to work for everything he got.”
Birch paced RCB with 16 points and nine boards. Dyer had 16 points and five assists.
Also in double figures were Carvelli with 13 and Noble and Malfregeot with 12 each.
“I thought it was a gutty performance from both ends,” Cook said.
RCB fell to Bluefield in the AA championship game on Saturday.
John Conley can be reached at 304-732-6060 or on Twitter @PIHnews.
Photo: Westside players (from left) Will Fox, Justin Cogar and Corey Bowles take questions from the media after Friday’s loss to Robert C. Byrd at the state semifinals.