The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

March 12, 2014

Westside wants another shot at Class AA crown

BECKLEY — Westside would like to have last year’s Class AA state title game to play over again.

The Lady Renegades, the 2012 champion, forgot to bring their offense against Bridgeport and lost 44-27.

They can’t replay that game, but it will be on their minds as they enter state quarterfinal play against Scott at 1 p.m. today at the Charleston Civic Center.

“From Day 1 we’ve wanted a chance to get back down here and try to make it to the final,” coach Jamie Lusk said. “We’re excited about being down here, and we want to see what we can do.”

The Lady Renegades are 13-3 and seeded No. 2 behind Fairmont Senior. Their only losses were back-to-back, Jan. 30-31, to Class AAA No. 1 Parkersburg South (49-43) and Class AA No. 4 seed Summers County (59-48), and at Logan (62-57, Feb. 19).

Westside was misfiring at midseason. Point guard and 3-point threat Danielle Brown was coming back from illness, and the team could rarely practice because of the bad weather.

“It took us a while. We had to get Danielle back in shape, and shooting like she can shoot it,” Lusk said. “She makes us a better team.”

Brown has raised her average to 10 points a game.

Having her back takes a lot of pressure off state player of the year candidate Hope Lester. The 6-foot-1 junior is averaging 20 points, 13 rebounds and four assists per game.

“Hope is our workhorse. She does everything, whether scoring or rebounding, and she can also play the point when she needs to.

“She’s added something new to her game every year. As a freshman she was a post player only. Last year she began stepping out and making 3s. Now she’s driving to the basket and drawing fouls.”

The other starting post is 5-10 junior Megan Endicott (6 points, 7 rebounds), who Lusk calls “our garbage player.”

“Megan gets the offensive rebound, makes steals and runs the floor,” he said. “She’s a role player who knows what she’s supposed to do.”

The wings are seniors Faith Davis and Hope Davis.

“Faith averages 13 points and has been consistent all year,” Lusk said. “She’s quick, and we look for her to drive to the basket.

“Hope averages five points, but she always plays good defense and rarely makes mistakes. She’s a very unselfish player who will give herself up.”

Westside has one of the stronger benches in point guard Stephanie Brown (3 ppg), posts Kristen Hash (6 ppg) and McKenzie Endicott (4 ppg) and guard Lakyn Walker (3 ppg).

“Stephanie gets people in position to score. Kristen always gives us heart and hustle, and is a good shot around the basket,” Lusk said. “Kenzie has come on strong and gives us a physical presence inside, which allows us to move Hope Lester outside. Lakyn is our shooter off the bench.”

Scott (18-5) is a perennial state tournament team on a seven-game winning streak.

They’re one of the bigger teams around, boasting 6-3 center Ally Whitman (12.5 ppg) and 6-1 forward Andrea Rankin (6.5).

Playmaking senior Jaimee Dotson (8.5), junior Landyn McKinney (12 ppg) and freshman Madylin Weeks (11 ppg) are the Lady Skyhawks’ guards.

They’re fresh off a 50-34 win over Herbert Hoover in the regional co-final.

“They’re big,” Lusk said. “Whitman has all the skills, and Rankin can shoot. They’re a tough challenge for us, but they’re a team we’re familiar with.”

Westside won the only meeting between the two clubs, 49-44 at Clear Fork.

Lusk hopes the Lady Renegades will play up to expectations.

“We have the experience, the depth and the talent to make it to the championship game,” Lusk said. “But there are great teams down here.

“That why you coach and play — for this kind of atmosphere and this kind of game.”

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