CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Bolstered by Hope Lester’s 15 points and 11 rebounds, No. 1 Westside continued its title defense by slipping past Fairmont 51-41 in Friday’s Class AA semifinal.
“They didn’t let us get out in transition and made us settle and work, and at the end they made free throws,” said Fairmont coach Corey Hines.
The Renegades (25-1) stretched their 24-19 halftime lead by opening the third quarter on a 10-3 run.
“We tell the girls at half, the third quarter is our quarter,” said Westside coach Jamie Lusk. ”We did a good job of keeping them to one shot and out, which was big.”
Fifth-seeded Fairmont (19-7) drew within 43-35 on Kelsey Morrone’s free throws with 2:38 left, but the Renegades scored the next six points to end the Polar Bears’ hopes.
Westside, which owns a 53-1 record the past two seasons, advanced to face Bridgeport (24-2) in Saturday’s championship game.
“I think we are ready — we got our nerves out today,” the sophomore Lester said. “I think we will come out fired up and ready to go.”
Faith Davis grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds as Westside controlled the boards 46-36. Danielle Brown chipped in 10 points for the Renegades who played big when Lester found herself in foul trouble.
“Every game we have another girl step up,” Lusk said. “Hope is going to get her points, but every night someone else seems to step up.”
The Polar Bears, who shot just 27 percent,including just 5-of-17 on 3s, were paced by Kaden Whaley’s 11 points, nine of which came in the first half. Gabby Tenny added 10 second-half points for Fairmont, and Emily Stoller had nine points and eight rebounds.
“We settled, when you come down and move and pass (the ball),” Hines said. “You’re going to just settle for long jumpers, and everyone knows that you won’t be successful down here if you do that.”