By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
CLEAR FORK —
Basketball is a tradition in Wyoming County.
Beating Westside has become a tradition for Wyoming East.
The Warriors continued their five-year winning streak against their county rivals Friday night by defeating the Renegades 67-57. Wyoming East advanced to 6-1 on the season, while Westside fell to 5-4.
Wyoming East coach Rory Chapman preaches two things: Intensity and defense. Against Westside, his players showed why.
After Westside came out to an electric atmosphere and a 23-15 lead in the first quarter, Chapman knew adjustments were necessary.
“They came out to a hot start and were playing with a lot of emotion. (Westside coach) Nick (Cook) does a great job with them,” Chapman said.
It was the adjustments made at the end of the first quarter that Wyoming East point guard Austin Canada said made the difference. Canada led Wyoming East with 18 points, including 3 3-pointers.
“We thought we were fired up, but they were more fired up,” Canada said. “But it all started on defense for us.”
Chapman’s adjustments worked, as the Warrior defense held Westside to just four points in the second quarter and went into the half trailing by just one point, 27-26.
A Brett Bowling layup midway through the third quarter gave East a 28-27 lead.
Westside wasn’t going to go down without a fight, as Levi Lambert put his team ahead by one following a layup and a foul shot.
However, it was the leadership and direction of Canada that brought East back into the game. A clutch 3-pointer helped East reclaim the lead and seal another victory for the surging Wyoming East boys.
“Coming into the season, experience was a word that was thrown around,” Chapman said of his team. “They were saying we didn’t have much experience. Well, I’ll tell ya, after the last few games, we’ve got guys who are getting that experience.”
Canada’s move from the two guard to the point in the offseason was a move with a lot of growing pains for the junior.
“I’ve had three guards do it,” Chapman said of the move. “All three of them have been successful doing it. Austin’s one of those.”
“I had a hard time adjusting to it,” Canada said. “When we played Woodrow, I didn’t have a good game, but I feel like I’ve gotten better since then.”
Westside coach Nick Cook was able to see a light shining through the clouds in the defeat.
“I thought we came out well, but foul trouble really did us in,” Cook said.
The Renegades were already down to an inexperienced lineup as they were missing a player due to disciplinary action. Then, late in the fourth quarter, they lost their two leading scorers in Corey Bowles and Justin Cogar to fouls.
“They had a hard time stopping our press early on,” Cook said. “I’m not saying they wouldn’t have got back into the game without our foul troubles, but we would’ve made it a lot harder on them.”
Wyoming East will likely see itself near the top of the Class AA poll when it is released, but Chapman isn’t concerning himself with that.
“We know that it really doesn’t matter as far as the polls go,” he said. “We care about the end of the season and being primed and ready to go at tournament time. We probably won’t even look at the polls much.”
East moved atop the sectional standings with the victory.
“This section is tough with Westside,” Chapman said. “You’ve also got Summers County with a lot of new players. Liberty and Levi Cook will prove a tough challenge. We played at Independence and they’ve got some good players.”
Wyoming East will play one of those sectional rivals Tuesday night as it welcomes in the Summers County Bobcats. Westside will play Man in Clear Fork.
— E-mail: jrollins
Wyoming East (6-1)
Austin Canada 8 1-2 18, Cody Lester 2 5-6 9, Josh Tunstalle 3 3-4 10, Christian Hedinger 3 2-2 8, Brett Bowling 5 3-5 15, Kyle Sandy 0 0-0 0, Tyler Lester 1 0-0 2, John Morgan 1 0-0 3, Joseph Cornett 1 0-0 2. Totals: 24 14-19 67.
Jordan Browning 1 0-0 2, Corey Bowles 8 1-2 19, Levi Lambert 4 7-9 14, Jason Scarlett 1 0-0 2, Justin Cogar 4 6-12 16, Hunter Walker 1 1-2 4, Matt Harless 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 15-25 57.
WE 15 11 17 24 — 67
W 23 4 10 20 — 57
3-pointers: WE: 8 (Canada 3, Tunstalle, Hedinger, Bowling 2, Morgan). Fouled out: WE: Hedinger, W: Bowles, Scarlett.