By all accounts, Westside did exactly what it had planned to do against Oak Hill’s Kalif Wright in the Class AA Region 3, Section 1 tournament.
What the Renegades didn’t plan on was Thomas Booth stepping up big for the Red Devils.
Booth, who averaged 2.6 points per game coming into the contest, had 11 points in the first quarter, when Wright was held scoreless, and that seemed to set the tone in the Red Devils’ 73-65 win Tuesday at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
Deandre Leonard, who scored his 1,000th point early in the third, also picked up the slack with 27 points and six rebounds as the Red Devils advanced to the Section 1 championship against Shady Spring at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Wyoming East High School.
“Coach told us before the game they were going to double- and triple-team Kalif and us guards had to step up, and we did,” Leonard said. “(Booth) came up to me before the game and said, ‘Dre, get me the ball. I’m not going to miss.’ And he didn’t.”
Booth’s 11 points made up for the absence of Wright’s normal scoring prowess and helped the Devils take an early 20-16 lead.
Wright finally got going in the second with a slam dunk and a 3-pointer as Oak Hill extended the lead to 37-23 at the half.
Booth, an all-state soccer player who was injured and missed Oak Hill’s run to the state championship soccer game, said it was his favorite sport that inspired him.
“My favorite (English Premiere League) team, Chelsea, won today,” Booth said, laughing. “So I kind of had a feeling it was going to be a good night. I just want to help the team win. We knew they’d be doubling Kalif. Somebody had to step up. I was just open.”
Not that Westside would go away easily.
Oak Hill led by as many as 18 in the third, but every time they looked like they were going to pull away, Westside answered.
They cut an 18-point lead to 10 in the third.
And in the fourth, they got to within eight.
Twice, Oak Hill had a five-point spurt without allowing Westside to get on its own side of the court.
“You take away those two 5-point plays, and it’s a different game,” Westside coach Nick Cook said. “I knew my kids wouldn’t quit. That’s why I love my team. But give them credit. They made plays.”
Wright finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds.
“They did a good job on Kalif, they were physical and they played hard,” Oak Hill coach Fred Ferri said. “We needed other kids to step up. Thomas and Deandre did that. Thomas is a better shooter than he has shown this year. He is capable of doing that.”
Cook said foul trouble hurt his team.
“We weren’t allowed to touch (Wright),” Cook said. “It was ridiculous. Every time we touched him, they called a foul. Four of my kids were in foul trouble. And that stretched us, we had some miscommunication and they took advantage of it.”
Oak Hill also missed 5 of 12 free throws down the stretch to allow Westside to remain in the game.
“We didn’t do a very good job in some areas,” Ferri said. “And we have to get better. With the 3-point shot, and they are good shooters, I never thought we had it won. Any lead, even 18, isn’t very big at all.”
Leonard scored his 1,000th point on a free throw that gave Oak Hill a 41-23 lead early in the third.
“It’s nice, something to be proud of, but honestly, I don’t even think about scoring,” Leonard said. “I think about getting rebounds, getting assists, whatever it takes to keep us going.”
“We’re just getting started,” Booth said. “We have a long way to go, and the job is just beginning.”
Oak Hill 73, Westside 65
Kyle Midkiff 1 0-0 3, Dylan Newsome 7 2-3 21, Corey Bowles 1 0-01 2, Zack Helmondollar 4 2-5 12, Levi Lambert 1 0-0 2, Chris Gravely 0 2-4 2, Tyler Cook 1 0-0 3, Dustin Tilley 2 1-2 5, Justin Tilley 4 3-4 11, Cody Toler 1 0-1 2. Totals: 23 10-20 65.
Oak Hill (20-3)
Deandre Leonard 7 11-15 27, Kalif Wright 8 4-10 21, Thomas Booth 4 0-0 11, Kam Carroll 1 1-3 3, Javonne Staunton-Bailey 0 1-2 1, Kyle Colon 0 0-0 0, Noah Smith 2 0-0 5, Zach Nibert 2 0-0 5. Totals: 24 17-30 73.
W 16 7 13 29 — 65
OH 20 17 13 23 — 73
Three-point goals: W: 9 (Newsome 5, Helmondollar 2, Cook, Midkiff); OH: 8 (Leonard 2, Wright, Booth 3, Smith, Nibert). Fouled out: none.