Westside accomplished several goals in Thursday night’s win over Wyoming East.
The Class AA No. 4 Renegades won their first sectional championship in seven years and secured home court advantage in next week’s Region 3 co-final.
WHS build a 19-point lead, then withstood a furious East rally in a 65-60 victory before a packed house at the Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center.
“It feels awesome,” said Renegades coach Nick Cook.
His team is 12-1 since a 6-5 start.
“We overcame a lot of adversity,” he commented. “In the middle of the season, we basically said, let’s start over.”
Westside’s defense kept the Warriors (16-8) off balance much of the night. With the East guards pushed back to Hotchkiss, points were tough to come by.
“They were keeping us so far from the basket, we couldn’t run our plays,” said WEHS coach Rory Chapman.
Both teams struggled from the floor in the first quarter, which ended with the Renegades up 11-10.
Although Westside star Corey Bowles sprained his ankle in the first quarter, WHS increased its lead.
A Will Fox 10-footer from the lane made it 20-13.
East got within 25-22 on Josh Tunstalle’s drive to the hoop. Westside answered with a 7-2 run, including a three from Bowles (who returned late in the second). It was 32-24 at the half.
The Warriors got within 35-31 on Christian Hedinger’s three-point play at the 4:15 mark.
Westside finished the quarter with an 11-0 spurt, including four points after a technical was called on East.
Fox hit two treys in the final period as the Renegades opened up a 58-39 margin.
“Those were huge,” Cook stated. “He has ice in his veins.”
East staged a wild come back down the stretch.
Canada hit two off balance shots around the bucket and added a three to cut it o 60-49.
It was 60-54 after Cody Lester sank a free throw tih :46.1 showing.
A Hedinger three narrowed it to 61-57.
Justin Kenneda made two foul shots to push the lead to six with :12.5 to go.
Brett Bowling’s three-point play narrowed it to 63-60 before Levi Lambert shut the door with two free throws.
“I think the fourth quarter was the only time we had all five guys committed to what we were trying to do, and you saw what happened,” Chapman said.
Cook says it will be tough for any team to come to win in Clear Fork in next week’s regionals.
“With the way our cheering section is supporting us, I don’t think Bluefield could beat us at home,” he commented.
Bowles had 17 for WHS. Lambert tallied 14, and Fox had 13.
Tunstalle paced East with 17, 15 in the first half.
Canada tossed in 16, and Bowling had 15.
East will probably be at No. 1 Bluefield next Wednesday.
“We were tied with them with five seconds left when we played there last week, so we know that we have a chance,” Chapman remarked. “Anything can happen.”
Game notes: Westside won its last sectional title in 2006 and last beat East three times in a season in 2004.