By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Has anyone seen Westside’s offense?
It had to be wandering around Charleston somewhere Saturday, because it was definitely missing at the Charleston Civic Center.
The defending Class AA champion Lady Renegades seemingly couldn’t buy a shot as they fell 44-27 to Bridgeport in the Class AA finals of the state basketball tournament.
Westside (25-2) shot just 20 percent from the floor against a Lady Indians defense that smothered all-state center Hope Lester.
The stellar sophomore struggled, whether shooting or just catching her teammates’ passes.
Their other options, the transition game and 3-point shooting, fared little better.
“We wanted to start fast, but it didn’t happen today,” coach Jamie Lusk said. “We missed shots we normally make.”
Westside had schooled Fairmont Senior in Friday’s semifinals. The run-oriented Polar Bears did not score a point in transition.
But in the final, it was Bridgeport that taught the lessons.
Lester, a 6-foot post, managed just 13 points. Faith Davis, who got the Lady Renegades off to great starts against PikeView and Fairmont Senior, scored just one point. Three-point specialist Danielle Brown fouled out with just one two-point jumper.
Inside or outside, Westside struggled.
Bridgeport coach Dave Marshall said he “had trouble sleeping last night, wondering what I would do.”
The Lady Indians, with no true center since Raina Young blew out a knee last month, have had to toughen up their defense to survive.
“We tried to front Lester (with Hannah Fetty), and get backside help from Tori Coulter,” Marshall said. “The guards had to rotate.
“The reason it was effective is we have to do it all the time.”
Fetty guarded Lester brilliantly, covering her like a shroud.
“I played a fronting post and was pushing her back,” said Fetty, who earned all-tournament honors, despite scoring just eight points in three games.
“My goal was to play straight-up defense and try not to foul,” she said. “I was in foul trouble quite often the last few days.”
Fetty worked to deny Lester the ball. Time and again she knocked the ball out of her taller foe's hands, and often she forced Lester to take shots she wasn't comfortable with.
“Hannah is listed at about 5-foot-8,” Marshall said. “But her heart is about 6-4.”
Westside committed six quick turnovers and did not score until Lester sank two foul shots with 3:36 remaining in the first quarter.
Lester later stepped outside and nailed a 3-pointer. The Lady Renegades would not score again in the quarter. Nor would they hit another 3.
Bridgeport held opponents to 34 points per game this season.
“You don't have to score 40 points a game to play defense,” Marshall said. “It's a matter of desire, want-to and a little bit of intelligence. This team is the poster child for that.”
Westside had a good defensive plan as well: Hold Miki Glenn down and force her teammates to beat them.
Glenn finished with 22 points —18 fewer than she scored Friday in a record-setting performance against Nicholas County.
The problem was, Bridgeport's other players didn't follow the script.
“We tried to keep Miki out of the lane and make her a jump shooter,” Lusk said. “Gameplan-wise, we kept them where we wanted to keep them. But the other girls stepped up and hit shots as well.”
Bridgeport (25-2) led 23-11 at halftime and pushed its advantage to as many as 15 in the third quarter. By midway through the fourth quarter, the lead was 24.
Westside's cheering section, which won the School Spirit post-game award, yelled "Don't give up!"
But to no avail.
Only two baskets inside by Lester and a putback by sub Hope Davis kept the Lady Renegades from breaking the record for fewest points in a AA game, 23 by Tucker County in 1991.
Lester had 11 rebounds, and Megan Endicott finished with 10. Endicott also had five points, and lone senior starter Morgan Spolarich had four assists.
Westside outrebounded Bridgeport 38-28.
“My girls gave me everything they had,” Lusk said. “They played hard, but things happen. Sometimes, shots won’t fall.
“You have to realize, they're still kids.”
Everyone will return for Westside except Spolarich, the sole senior.
“I've had four good years,” she said. “I'm proud of this team. They're my best friends. They'll go far.”
— E-mail: dstillwell
Glenn 3-10 15-16 22, Wolfe 0-4 3-4 3, Fetty 0-3 3-4 3, Coulter 2-4 0-0 4, Ware 3-6 1-3 7, Tomasik 0-0 0-0 0, Campbell 0-0 0-0 0, Chalfant 1-2 0-0 3, Wickenhofer 0-0 0-0 0, Randolph 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 10-30 22-27 44.
Spolarich 1-11 0-0 2, F.Davis 0-9 1-2 1, Endicott 2-4 1-3 5, Brown 1-3 0-1 2, Lester 5-16 2-2 13, Hash 0-1 2-2 2, H.Davis 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 10-49 6-10 27.
Bridgeport 12 11 10 11—44
Westside 5 6 7 9—27
3-Point Goals—Bridgeport 2-7 (Glenn 1-1, Chalfant 1-2, Coulter 0-1, Wolfe 0-3), Westside 1-7 (Lester 1-1, Spolarich 0-1, Brown 0-1, H.Davis 0-1, F.Davis 0-3). Fouled Out—Brown. Rebounds—Bridgeport 28 (Glenn 10), Westside 38 (Lester 11). Assists—Bridgeport 7 (Glenn 4), Westside 5 (Spolarich 4). Total Fouls—Bridgeport 13, Westside 20. A—3,459.