PikeView's box and one defense slowed Hope Lester.
But only for a half.
The Westside sophomore center scored 19 second-half points Thursday as the Renegades downed the Panthers 68-41 in their Class AA state tournament quarterfinal game at the Charleston Civic Center.
Lester, who had dominated play in all three games last season at states as Westside rolled to the AA championship, had just seven points and a surprising one rebound in the first half.
But she turned it on in the third quarter, hitting the first two baskets of the period and adding 13 points to her total.
She finished with 26 points, plus nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
“I took my time on my shots,” Lester said. “I wanted the ball and knew I had to go up strong. They were physical, but I knew what to do.”
Although Lester was hampered early, Faith Davis got the Renegades off to a strong start. She hit a 15-foot jumper and then a 3-pointer in just over two minutes to put Westside up 5-4. PikeView would never lead after that.
“I was ready and focused,” Davis said. She scored 14 points and had two assists and three steals.
She also had one of only three Westside baskets in the second quarter.
“Faith has (stepped up) all season,” coach Jamie Lusk said. “She’s one of the best girls we have at driving to the basket, and she's a good finisher.”
PikeView standout guard Hope Nester said the Panthers weren’t expecting a big game out of Davis.
“We were keying on Hope, and sometime when you key on one player, it lets someone score more than you expect,” she said. “When you have good shooters taking good shots, they’ll put some points on the scoreboard.”
Not only did Davis step up big, but fellow junior Megan Endicott had a strong second half, with 12 of her 14 points and seven of her 13 rebounds. The six-footer also blocked three shots.
“We know Hope is our best post player, but I had to step up and finish my shot tonight,” Endicott said.
Guard Danielle Brown had an off-night shooting, but still finished with six points, six rebounds and five assists.
Point guard Morgan Spolarich contributed six points, nine rebounds and eight assists to the victory.
Lusk said each of his starters are capable of big games.
“These girls are unselfish. They don’t care if they get 15 points or five,” he said. “They are a family and they want to succeed.
“Megan and Faith both had great games. They’ve come a long way, and they’re also two of our best defenders. I’m proud of how they developed.”
Their efforts overshadowed a gutsy, hustling effort by PikeView (14-11), which had lost four starters from last season’s state-tournament team and had fallen to the Renegades by 40 and 30 points earlier in the campaign.
They trailed by as many as 18 points in the second quarter, but sophomore forward Lyndsey Hatfield keyed an 9-0 run with four baskets and a foul shot to help make it a 24-16 game at halftime.
“I knew I had to rebound well and score for us to have a chance,” Hatfield said.
But Westside (24-1) steadily opened up its lead as the second half progressed.
“They’re all excellent shooters,” coach Karen Miller said. “We tried different defenses, but they would change their offense to what we were playing.”
“We had to fight some jitters, and PikeView came to play,” Lusk said. “They were getting after it on defense, making it tough to make some good shots. But in the second half, we got back to doing what we do well. The girls made some good moves inside.”
Hatfield led PikeView with 19 points and eight rebounds. Nester scored 12 points and Courtney White contributed six rebounds.
“No one expected us to be here,” defensive standout Laura Hill said. “Proving people wrong was a big point in our season.”
Westside will advance to today's 7:15 p.m. semifinal against Fairmont Senior.
— E-mail: dstillwell
PikeView's box and one defense slowed Hope Lester.
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