If anybody had bet that Westside would be led to the Class AA Region 8, Section 1 title by an injured post player and a freshman off the bench, he would have made a ton of money.

The No. 4 Renegades came back from a 10-point deficit to eliminate No. 9 Wyoming East, 48-37, at the Raleigh County Armory Wednesday night.

En route, senior Justin Sizemore went down at the 6:41 mark of the first quarter with a twisted ankle but returned to the contest and scored 15 points to lead Westside.

“I think I came down on the side of it off a rebound,” Sizemore said. “It bothered me a little bit, but I wasn’t going to let it take me out of my game. I had to rebound and do what I needed to do to win. I had to help the team out.”

Sizemore was out for more than two minutes of floor time in the first quarter and was on the sideline again for the first minute of the second half with the ankle problem.

“I thought Justin was courageous,” Westside coach Jimmy Hopkins said. “He hurt that ankle early in the first half. We taped it up and got him back out there.”

Wyoming East (16-7) jumped out to 13-4 advantage to start the game and had an 11-point lead early in the second period behind the sharp-shooting of Justin Caldwell and Cory Willard.

Westside (21-3) would chop the lead to 22-16 at the half, but the Warriors would push the lead back to 10 at the beginning of the third quarter.

Willard would score a game-high 16 points for the Warriors and Caldwell would finish with 10.

Freshman Eric Bailey then came off the bench to bury a trey and a deuce to ignite the Renegades’ comeback.

“We were in a lot better shape than we were at Westside,” Hopkins said. “We were down 17 at Westside the first half. I just told the boys at halftime, ‘we can’t keep shooting this poorly.’ I told them, ‘let’s take the ball to the basket, try to get to the foul line, get our stroke back and tighten up our defense.’ I think we did an excellent job of rebounding the ball in that second half.”

Bailey would score all 11 of his points during the second-half rally.

Westside wrestled the lead away just before the end of the third quarter, 29-28, when Derrick Goodson sank a jumper from the foul line area.

On the other end, Wyoming East went cold from the field, scoring only 15 points in the final two periods.

“I think we were playing a little bit better defense in the second half,” Hopkins said. “They only had eight points until about three minutes to go in the half.”

Wyoming East coach Jesse Lester left the armory immediately after the game and was not available for comment.

Westside advances to play either Mount View or Iaeger on Thursday, March 9, for the Region 8 title at the Raleigh County Armory.

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Westside (21-3)

Justin Sizemore 6 2-2 15, Eric Bailey 4 2-2 11, Shawn Clark 3 2-2 8, Marcus Gunter 0 0-0 0, Tyler Davis 1 0-1 2, Kyle Lusk 1 0-0 2, Chris Blankenship 2 4-4 8, Derrick Goodson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 10-11 48.

Wyoming East (16-7)

Cory Willard 5 3-4 16, Andrew Meneghini 1 0-0 3, Justin Caldwell 4 2-3 10, Nick Rezzonico 1 0-0 2, Kelsey Brooks 1 0-1 2, Stephen Gamallo 0 0-0 0, Josh Griffith 0 0-0 0, Jason Shrewsbury 2 0-0 4. Totals: 14 5-8 37.

W 4 12 13 19 — 48

WE 13 9 6 9 — 37

Three-point goals: W: 2 (Sizemore, Bailey); WE: 4 (Willard 3, Meneghini); Fouled out: WE: Meneghini.

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