Westside faces a familiar foe in the opening round of the state tournament on Wednesday night.
The No. 4 seed Renegades (19-7) take on No. 5 Bridgeport (18-7), the team which eliminated WHS in the first round last season.
“The kids are excited about it and have revenge on their mind,” said Westside coach Nick Cook. “You don’t get many chances to get justification like this in the state tournament. You do in the sectionals and regionals but it’s not often you get this opportunity at this level.”
Cook says the Indians lost their top two scorers from last year but return a lot of personnel from last season.
Last year’s coach retired, and one of his assistants, Mike Robey, now heads the program. “We expect to see a lot of the same things offensively and defensively,” Cook noted.
“They like to push the ball, and we have to get back in transition,” he pointed out. “They can hurt us in transition if we lollygag and don’t get back.
“They don’t turn the ball over much,” Cook added. “They have several really solid guards.”
He says his team will have to “find a way to apply pressure.”
Cook wants to see four strong quarters from the Renegades.
“There’s no tomorrow any more,” he noted. “We’ve got to be mentally prepared to play four quarters. We’ve got to put the ball in the basket.
“Our defense was pretty solid against PikeViw (in the regional) and we rebounded the ball well in that game,” he said. “We have to continue to do that.
“If we do that, we should be okay,” Cook commented.
Last year’s experience in Charleston—as well as playing Charleston Catholic in the Civic Center during the regular season—is expected to help.
“They’re not going to be intimidated by the atmosphere,” Cook said. “They played there last year. And against Charleston Catholic, we scored against them, which is pretty impressive with the style they play and their defense.”
Cook said being at state “is a great opportunity for us and hopefully (this game) will be the spring board for the next few days.”
Game time Wednesday is 9 p.m. The Westside-Bridgeport winner will take on the Robert C. Byrd-East Fairmont winner on Friday at 1 p.m.