By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
The last time Westside beat Wyoming East, Barack Obama was a junior senator from Illinois, Pirates of the Caribbean was the No. 1 movie in the country and Corey Bowles was 12 years old.
That all changed on Wednesday night when the Westside Renegades defeated the Wyoming East Warriors 82-64 in the Class AA consolation round of the Big Atlantic Classic. It was the first time Westside defeated its county rival in five years.
The last time it happened, Westside’s coach Nick Cook was in his rookie season, and Wyoming East won the state championship.
“If I said it didn’t feel good to beat them, I’d be lying,” Cook said. “Nobody knows how good this team can be. My kids are just now figuring it out.”
The teams were just about equal for much of the game. Westside went into the half with a 42-40 lead.
The Renegades extended their lead early in the third quarter when Levi Lambert and Corey Bowles hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Westside added a pair of buckets from Will Cox and Justin Cogar to open up the lead.
“It was a crucial stretch for us right there,” Cook said. “If I sat here and talked about every kid who was crucial to our win, I’d be talking about all of them.
“From Matt Harless coming off the bench and playing good defense to Will Cox making good shots. Levi (Lambert) does what he does. He’s great on both sides of the court. Great player. Corey (Bowles) and Cogar are usually going to lead us in scoring.”
Bowles and Cogar did lead the Renegades with 25 and 23 points, respectively.
“We played very good,” Bowles said. “Coach knew we had to step on the gas coming out of halftime.”
Wyoming East cut the lead and came back to tie Westside several times during the third quarter, but never was able to get over the hump, mainly due to the defense of Harless.
Harless stepped in for Jason Scarlett, who spent much of the game in foul trouble, and matched up with Wyoming East’s Brett Bowling. He helped hold Bowling to only one field goal in the game.
“We played last night and came back to play today,” Wyoming East’s Rory Chapman said. “I thought our legs were good in the first half but in the second half... we didn’t do a good job.”
The normally deep Warriors were unable to give Bowling a breather in Tuesday’s game against Robert C. Byrd. He played 28 minutes against Westside.
“I think depth was an issue,” Chapman said. “But that’s one of those things you just have to tough out.”
Westside may be playing its best basketball of the season when it matters the most.
“It means a lot going forward, we’re starting to play our best basketball right now,” Cook said.
Westside has gone on a tear since losing to Wyoming East earlier this month, defeating Man 105-55, knocking off then-Class A No. 1 Tug Valley 71-68 and beating Liberty 77-68. The Renegades 67-56 loss to Bluefield in the first game of the Big Atlantic Classic even helped Cook see good in his team.
“I thought even Monday night we did well,” he said. “We didn’t finish the job, but I think we’re starting to play our best basketball of the year in this home stretch heading into February.”
Westside will welcome Independence into Clear Fork on Tuesday while Wyoming East will look to rebound from a 2-game losing skid when they travel to Hinton Monday night to take on Summers County.
— Email: jrollins
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter
Westside 82, Wyoming 64
Austin Canada 10 4-6 18, Cody Lester 1 2-2 4, Josh Tunstalle 3 5-8 10, Christian Hedinger 3 4-5 9, Brett Bowling 2 12-16 16, Jacob Dulcie 1 0-0 2, Kyle Sandy 0 0-0 0, John Morgan 2 1-1 5, Joseph Cornett 0 0-0 0, Jordan Hayes 0 0-0 0, Tyler Lester 0 0-0. Totals: 22 26-34 64.
Corey Bowles 9 9-15 25, Justin Kenneda 0 0-0 0, Levi Lambert 6 3-4 14, Jason Scarlett 1 0-0 2, Justin Cogar 9 6-9 23, Breyer Morgan 0 0-0 0, Will Fox 6 2-2 12, Jordan Browning 1 0-0 2, Hunter Walker 0 0-0 0, Shawn Jenkins 0 0-0 0, Bryce Robinson 0 0-0 0, Corey West 0 0-0 0, Matt Harless 2 0-0 4. Totals: 34 20-30 82.
WE 24 16 14 10 — 64
WS 16 26 22 18 — 82
3-point goals — WE: 6 (Canada 4, Tunstalle, Hedinger); WS: 6 (Bowles 2, Lambert, Cogar, Fox 2). Fouled out — WE: Canada WS: Scarlett.