One word sums up Westside basketball in 2013-14.
WHS coach Nick Cook says beating opposing teams down the floor will have a lot to do with how far his club goes.
Expectations are that the Renegades will go pretty far.
Westside reached the state tournament last season for the first time in seven years. “We had a taste of success last year,” Cook commented. “We’re trying to take it a little bit farther and make it to the last Saturday (of basketball season).
The Renegades played a lot of hoops together in the off-season. “These kids have bought in to the program,” said Cook. “That carries over to the younger kids.”
A big part of the the team’s success will depend on tempo.
“We want to get the ball out and down the floor for 32 minutes,” the coach noted. “That’s not to say we can’t set up in the half court, but it’s benefit to get out and go.”
WHS will apply full court pressure when ever possible.
“We’ll be in your face, and if we play man to man it will be in your face,” Cook said.
“We want to make you do things you don’t normally do.”
A veteran starting line up is led by senior Corey Bowles, a second team all-state pick last year.
“He’s one of those special players,” said Cook. “He’s been getting better and better. “I think you’ll see a big improvement in his shooting. People don’t realize how much energy you expend playing the point.”
Bowles will play the two guard, and the point will be occupied by sophomore Will Fox, who missed about half of last season with an injury.
“(Fox) gets us into our offenses,” the coach remarked. “He’s a coach on the floor.”
Improved strength and shooting will also pay off.
Junior Justin Cogar was a third team all-stater last year. Cogar has the versatility to play inside or outside.
“He’ll be 100 percent by the time the season starts,” said Cook, referring to an ankle injury Cogar suffered in football season.”
“He’s too athletic for other teams big people and too strong for their guards,” he noted. “He’ll be a tough match up.
“He’s going to be a rebounder, and needs to stay out of trouble,” the coach added.
Forward Levi Lambert “is an awesome leader,” Cook says. “He’s one of the best finishers around the basket I’ve ever had. And he’s really worked a lot on his perimeter shooting.”
Junior Justin Kenneda is a key to the Renegades defense.
“He usually guards the other team’s point guard,” Cook noted. “He sets the tempo.”
Senior Jordan Browning is bouncing back from an injury. “He’s kind of a hybrid player,” said Cook. “We can put him in at any position. That’s a big luxury to have a kid like that.”
Senior Scott Jenkins “has really put in time in the weight room. He can knock down his shots.”
Bryce Robinson and Larry Cook “can play multiple positions and by the end of the season we think they’ll be adding to our depth.”
Senior Matt Harless was injured in football season but will add a big body to the WHS rotation when he is healthy.
A tough schedule includes AAA Woodrow Wilson, Logan and Greenbrier East, last year’s AA runner-up Robert C. Byrd, Class A power Charleston Catholic and arch rival Wyoming East.
“It’s a tough schedule, ” Cook stated. “There are no cupcakes on there.”
The Renegades will play on back-to-back nights and also have Friday night, Saturday afternoon games on another occasion. The coach says he wants the team to be in situations it could face at the state tournament.
“This group of kids is special,” Cook commented.
“They’re going to reap the benefits of all the hard work they’ve done,” he continued. “I’m happy for them.”