CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Robert C. Byrd’s quest for a perfect season remained alive despite blowing an eight-point lead against Westside in the final minute of regulation
The top-seeded Eagles bounced back to win 78-73 in overtime, escaping the upset bid in the Class AA semifinals.
“I’m extremely proud of how these guys hung in there today and battled some adversity,” RCB coach Bill Bennett said. “They never panicked, they were confident. We talked about going back out and doing what we do.”
RCB (24-0) had five players in double figures, led by Luke Dyer and Devonti Birch with 16 points, but the end of regulation became a near-nightmare as the Eagles missed four free throws and committed three turnovers.
Westside (20-7) still trailed 68-66 with eight seconds left, when it set up a play for guard Will Fox drive the lane. He laid in the tying basket as time expired, giving him six of his team’s eight unanswered points in the final minute.
“It was just an awesome play and we gave him options,” Westside coach Nick Cook said. “I told Will if they hesitate at all to take it to the basket. I don’t know if they hesitated or not, but he got to the basket and made the bucket.”
In overtime, RCB was more reliable at the foul line, converting 3-of-4 free throws in the final 20 seconds to stretch out a 75-73 lead.
The Eagles shot a blazing 68 percent effort from the field in the second half, hitting their first eight shots. Dyer poured in 13 points in the third quarter when RCB outscored the Renegades 26-11 to take the lead.
“My teammates found me and set good screens,” Dyer said. “I was just shooting well and I looked for my shot more.”
Westside was led by Corey Bowles and Justin Cogar with 21 points each. Fox finished with 20 in what was a game of emotional swings for the Renegades.
“We just have to stay composed I’m moments like that, because it’s a game of runs,” Cogar said. “Credit to RCB. They took advantage of our mistakes and that’s how it goes sometimes.”
Cameron Carvelli finished with 13 points for RCB, including seven of his team’s 10 points in overtime.
“Going into overtime we just said it’s 0-0 and we have four minutes to advance to the state championship,” Carvelli said.
Justin Noble and Julian Malfregot each chipped in 12 for RCB, which will face Bluefield in Saturday’s Class AA title game at noon.