The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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March 1, 2013

Renegades hold on for 65-60 victory

BECKLEY — After Thursday night’s heavyweight battle between the No. 4 Westside Renegades and the No. 5 Wyoming East Warriors, the Beckley-Raleigh County  Convention Center  may want to rename itself the “Wyoming County Convention Center in Beckley.”

The Renegade Rowdies, the wild Wyoming East student section (complete with a  student in a Warrior costume) and many more Wyoming County faithful packed the house that Dave Barksdale built for the Section 3, Region 1 championship.

While  both teams have already punched their ticket to the regional finals, this one was for more than bragging rights — the winner will most likely move on to host PikeView while the loser would travel to take on the No. 1 team in the  state, Bluefield.

For the third straight time, Westside defeated their county rival, giving  Nick Cook his first sectional championship as coach of the Renegades by a score of 65-60.

Westside led by as many as 18 points, but the No. 5 Warriors fought back, making it a 3-point game late in the fourth quarter. However, it would be the gut and drive of the Renegades that propelled them to victory.

Westside’s chances looked bleak early in the first quarter when junior guard Levi  Lambert picked up his second foul, and leading scorer Corey Bowles was carried off the court with an ankle injury.

“I didn’t  think we could face any more adversity than we did earlier this season,” Westside’s Nick Cook said. “Right off the bat it happened. This team had to do  their job. Someone went in and made a big play. It didn’t matter  who I put in  there, they had to play. That’s what I expect my kids to do.”

“I  was  pretty nervous at that point; I thought we were in serious  trouble,” Westside  forward Justin Cogar said. “Luckily Corey came back in and helped pick us back  up.”

Bowles, channeling  Willis Reed, hobbled on to the court with a taped-up ankle and immediately hit a big 3-pointer to help his team extend their lead.   

“It’s terrible right now,” Bowles said of the ankle. “I’m going to put some ice on it and hope it feels better tomorrow.”

The win gives Westside home court in the regional final against either  PikeView or  Bluefield. It’s an advantage that Nick Cook likes.

“With  this cheering section the way they are, I don’t know if anyone would  come into our  gym and deal with the Renegade Rowdies,” Cook said.

The “Renegade  Rowdies” were in full effect. The student section filled the seats behind the Wyoming East bench leading cheers, songs and chants that  reverberated through  the halls of the Convention Center.

“I  want to go on record. We have the best student section in the state,” Bowles said.

Bowles teammates echoed those sentiments.

“It’s everything. Our cheering section is great. They’ve had three games in three nights. That’s the game-changer right there,” Lambert said.

“It makes us play hard when we got a whole lot of people cheering for us,” Will  Fox said.

“It  makes us win to win for our school,” Justin Kenneda said.

“That crowd out there gets us hyped up; it gets us in the game. It gets us  going and keeps us going. They’re half the team. They’re following us all the way  states,”  Jason Scarlett said.

If the Renegades do make it to Charleston, there’s at least one person  hoping the “Battle of Wyoming County,” Part 5 happens.

“Westside has  a nice team,” Wyoming East coach Rory Chapman said. “Hopefully we  get  another chance at them in Charleston. We’ll see.”

— E-mail:  and  follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins


Wyoming East (16-8)

Austin Canada  7 1-4 16, Cody Lester 1 2-3 4, Josh Tunstalle 5 6-8 17, Joseph  Cornett 0  0-0 0, Christian Hedinger 2 3-5 8, Brett Bowling 4 7-7 15, Alec  Lusk 0 0-0 0.  Totals: 19 19-27 60.

Westside (18-6)

Will  Fox 5  1-2 13, Jordan Browning 1 0-0 3, Corey Bowles 6 2-3 17, Justin  Kenneda 1 5-7 7,  Levi Lambert 3 7-8 14, Jason Scarlett 1 0-0 2, Justin Cogar 3 0-0  6, Matt  Harless 1 1-2 3. Totals: 21 16-22 65

WE    10    14    7    29    —    60

WS    11    21    14    19    —    65

3-pointers: WE  3 (Canada, Tunstalle, Hedinger). W: 7 (Bowles 3, Fox 2, Browning,  Lambert).  Fouled Out – W: Bowles.

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