Playing its second game in as many days, No. 5 Westside will go home with just as many losses after falling to Fairmont Senior, 88-83, on the road Saturday.
With career-highs from three of its guards, Fairmont Senior (8-7) was able to overcome Westside’s (12-5) up-tempo style of play late in the third quarter, taking a double-digit lead early in the game’s final quarter.
Westside stayed overnight after a disheartening loss to No. 1 Robert C. Byrd Friday night, but coach Nick Cook said the weekend’s results had nothing to do with the trip or the extended stay.
“We got back (Friday night) and we didn’t have to get up very early,” said Cook. “We got to sleep in.
“I don’t know how to explain my group right now, they’re tough to figure out. The trip itself didn’t have that much to do with it. We just played two really tough teams, and sometimes you get it handed it to you and you just tuck your tail between your legs and go home.”
After trailing 52-43 midway through the third quarter due to an 11-4 run by the Renegades, the Polar Bears went on a 13-0 run of their own to take a 56-52 lead. Despite closing the quarter on an 8-4 run, Westside still trailed by seven going into the final eight minutes.
“We’ve just got to eliminate these spurts we go on. I think we had an eight-point lead there in the third, and then we were down eight at one point,” Cook said of the momentum shift. “We’ve got to quit taking naps during these games and letting these teams go on these runs and do these things to us.”
The start of the fourth quarter brought two plays that were possibly even bigger than the big run the Polar Bears went on in the third. Harold made back-to-back hustle plays to steal the ball and push it ahead to a teammate for the score, the first coming on a loose ball that changed hands three different times before Harold coralled it.
Fairmont Senior coach David Retton called them “huge plays.”
From there, Fairmont Senior took a quick 13-point lead, one from which the Renegades would never recover.
For the Polar Bears, Tavon Horton, Darhius Nunn and Brennon Moorehead all had career nights with 28, 24 and 14 points, respectively.
“We were just trying to play in the game like we do in practice, and we finally put points up on the board,” Nunn, a sophomore guard, said. “We just wanted to take our time, not play too fast and not play too slow. We didn’t want to turn the ball over because we knew they were a pretty good team.”
The stat of the night, though, may have been that Nunn and Moorehead shot a collective 16-of-20 from the floor.
As for Westside, big man Justin Cogar finished with a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds while adding two blocks. After scoring 13 points in the first half, though, Cogar was held scoreless in the third quarter.
“Of course their adjustment at halftime was going to be to do something with him,” Cook said of the lack of production from his big man in the second half. “We just kind of got into a transition-type game there in the third quarter, going up and down the floor and we didn’t do a good job of getting the ball into him. And at the same time, he’s got to get in there and work for the ball.”
Justin Kenneda led the way with 22 points as four Renegade players reached double figures. Joining Cogar and Kenneda with double digits were Jordan Browning with 12 points and Corey Bowles with 11.
With one of the toughest schedules in the state, Cook believes his squad will be better suited for the quickly approaching postseason, saying it was good to get these kinds of games out of the way.
“Hopefully what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Hopefully we learn from it and fix our mistakes and problems and we try to get better from it. It was a good trip. We played two quality teams. Didn’t like the result on either night, but these aren’t the ones that count,” he said. “The ones that count are coming up in March, and hopefully by the time we get there, with this schedule, we haven’t seen anything new or anything we haven’t gone up against. Hopefully it makes us better in the long run.”
The Renegades will look to get back to their winning ways Tuesday as they travel to play Charleston Catholic at the Charleston Civic Center.
— E-mail Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter
Fairmont Senior 88, Westside 83
Fairmont Senior (8-7)
T. Horton 10-19 6-8 28; D. Nunn 10-13 4-5 24; I. Childers 5-8 2-2 12; J. Leon 3-5 0-0 6; J. Harold 1-2 0-1 2; B. Cehajik 0-2 0-0 0; B. Moorehead 6-7 0-0 14; J. Lee 1-1 0-0 2; M. Drake 0-0 0-0 0; B. Taylor 0-1 0-0 0; J. Casalinuova 0-0 0-0 0; D. Stills 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 36-58 12-16 88.
W. Fox 6-13 1-2 14; J. Browning 5-5 1-2 12; C. Bowles 4-9 1-2 11; J. Kenneda 7-11 5-6 22; J. Cogar 7-19 3-4 17; L. Lambert 3-4 0-0 7. Totals 32-61 11-16 83
FSHS 22 17 28 21 — 88
WHS 19 22 19 23 — 83
3-pointers: FS: 4 (Horton 2, Moorehead 2); WS: 8 (Fox, Browning, Bowles 2, Kenneda 3, Lambert). Fouled out — none.