NEW RICHMOND —
To call Friday night’s game between Wyoming East and Westside a big game would be an understatement.
The two teams each defeated the other earlier this season. They were playing for the pride of Wyoming County. Maybe most importantly, they were playing for the No. 1 seed in the sectional tournament.
Going into last week’s Big Atlantic Classic, Westside had waited five years since they last defeated the Warriors. Now it’s Wyoming East who is on the other side of the history books.
Westside defeated Wyoming East before a sold-out crowd 77-75 in a game that came down to the wire.
Early in the game, the Warriors jumped out to a big lead and were up 17-9 at the end of the first quarter. However, the Renegade offense came alive in the second and third quarter.
Going into the half, trailing East 34-29, the Renegades opened it up from long range, sinking 5 3-pointers on their way to a 31-point quarter and took the lead 60-56.
The Warriors weren’t going to go down without a fight, hitting some clutch free throws before junior guard Austin Canada hit a 3-pointer late in the game to tie it.
However, as fate would have it, the game’s biggest moment came down to two Justin Cogar free throws.
With 2.5 ticks of the clock remaining, the sophomore forward stepped up to the line and sank both baskets to give Westside a 77-75 lead.
Austin Canada’s last second 3-pointer wouldn’t hit as the buzzer sounded and fans rushed the courts to celebrate with their heroes.
“It was a crazy atmosphere,” Cogar said. “It was nerve racking, I was pretty nervous but I had to stay calm.”
“I told them to start making more shots,” Westside coach Nick Cook said with a laugh when asked about halftime adjustments.
“This team has faced a lot of adversity this season, they’re a young team and it was almost like rebuilding during the season. I’m proud of our team.”
The win will move Westside to 14-5 on the season and in first place of the sectional.
For Wyoming East, it’s a learning moment.
“I felt like we played as hard as we could, but we didn’t play our best game,” East coach Rory Chapman said. “We’re better this week than we were last week, but we have a lot of things to work on.”
The Warriors will get a chance to seek revenge on an early season loss when they take on the No. 3 AAA Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles Monday at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
Westside won’t have long to celebrate the victory. They’ll travel to Logan tonight for a 7:30 p.m. tip.
“I probably won’t sleep any tonight,” Westside’s Cook said. “I’ve got tape on Logan to watch.”
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Will Fox 2 0-0 4, Jordan Browning 0 0-0 0, Corey Bowles 7 4-8 20, Justin Kenneda 3 0-0 9, Levi Lambert 7 4-4 21, Jason Scarlett 2 1-2 5, Justin Cogar 2 5-6 9, Matt Harless 3 3-6 9 Totals: 26 17-27 77.
Wyoming East (12-4)
Austin Canada 6 5-6 22, Cody Lester 4 6-8 14. John Morgan 0 0-0 0, Josh Tunstalle 5 4-6 17, Joseph Cornett 0 2-4 2, Christian Hedinger 1 1-2 3 Brett Bowling 6 6-8 18, Jordan Hayes 0 0-0 0, Totals: 22 24-34 75
W 9 20 31 17 — 77
WE 17 17 22 19 — 75
3-point goals — W: 8 (Kenneda 3, Lambert 3, Bowles 2); WE: 7 (Canada 4, Tunstalle 3). Fouled out — W: Scarlett, Harless WE: Bowling.