The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

July 11, 2014

Lusk taking time to relax with busy coaching schedule looming ahead

Westside leader won three titles at different levels in recent months

When the 2013-14 West Virginia high school Coach of the Year awards were presented two weeks ago in Charleston, the girls basketball winner was absent.

Westside’s Jamie Lusk couldn’t be there.

“It’s summer family time. I was at the beach,” he said. “I coached for 10 months last year. I’m trying to relax as much as I can.”

Lusk not only led the Lady Renegades to their second Class AA state championship in the past three years, he also coached elementary basketball and Little League softball teams to championships.

Busy man.

In the fall he coached both the boys and girls grades 4-6 teams at Road Branch Elementary, where he teaches physical education.

It’s a very small school, and whoever tries out makes the team.

“We’re lucky to have seven or eight players. Every year we have to find enough to have a team,” Lusk said. “Once they play, they fall in love with it and often go on playing through high school.”

The Road Branch boys won the Class B championship. A few months later, his Cheetahs softball team went a perfect 14-0 in the Oceana Little League.

In between, his Westside prep squad compiled a 21-3 mark en route to the AA girls title.

Despite the stellar record, the season wasn’t a piece of cake for the Lady Renegades. They had to overcome Danielle Brown’s absence early.

“The biggest challenge was not having Danielle (a 2013 all-stater out with a leg injury) at the beginning of the year. She was a major part of the team,” Lusk said. “We ended up working (her sister) Stephanie Brown as backup point guard and she ended up playing a lot at the state tournament.”

The Renegades beat a respected PikeView squad to reach states, and then downed Scott 56-42, Keyser 56-44 and finally Sissonville 43-33 for the title.

Seven seniors were in Westside’s nine-player rotation — Lakyn Walker, Faith Davis, Kristin Hash, Hope Davis, Megan Endicott, Danielle Brown and Kenzie Endicott. They had been state champions in 2012 and runner-up to Bridgeport in 2013.

“I thought we’d be in the mix. There were a lot of good players coming back in the state, but we had the talent and team chemistry to make a run for it again,” Lusk said. ‘Things fell in place and the girls played extremely well.”

Even with the seven players lost to graduation, Lusk figures Westside will be in the running again when basketball season rolls around in December

Class AA all-state captain Hope Lester returns at center — or at any other position on the court she’s needed — along with Stephanie Brown. Lester averaged 20 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and four assists. Brown starred on defense and had some key offensive plays in the state tournament.

“When you start a team you want a good big girl and a good point guard,” Lusk said. “We feel they’ll both be coaches on the floor. They both have very high basketball IQs. They’ll step up and make this team theirs.”

Until then, he’ll bask in the glow of 10 months of championships.

“The Coach of the Year award was truly an honor. It means a lot to me and my family,” Lusk said.

“There are a whole lot of great coaches in this state, some I coach against during the season and a lot of north. I admire what they do. I try to learn from them and add to my coaching style.

“It paid off for us.”

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