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Westside battle-tested through bruising schedule

CLEAR FORK, W.Va. — The back-and-forth rivalry between Westside (11-3) and Wyoming East (11-3) has been one of the intriguing story lines out of Class AA so far through the boys high school basketball season.

The two AA powerhouses have met three times already with Wyoming East winning 79-71 back in early January, Westside won in the Big Atlantic Classic 61-57 and then East won a dramatic buzzer-beater last week on a breakaway layup, 55-53.

All five starters for Westside are averaging double figures in scoring on the year.

The two teams highlight Section 1 out of Region 3 in Class AA as both programs have the potential for a state championship run. Defending state champion Bluefield is part of Region 3 as well in Section 2.

“Just us, Bluefield and Wyoming East alone – based off of the polls this year – that’s three of the top four teams in the state,” said Westside head coach Nick Cook. “That sums it up right there – one of us won’t be able to go to Charleston. You want to be playing your best basketball going into the postseason and I still don’t think we’ve done that yet.

“We’ve had a couple of good performances, but in terms of consistency, we still haven’t put four complete quarters together at any point this season,” he said. “We’re still trying to get better every time we go out and are looking to improve.”

The Renegades started off the year with a bang, edging Class AAA tournament contender Greenbrier East 83-81. Westside also has two wins over Class AAA Logan and Class A defending champion Tug Valley.

Westside, last year’s No. 3 seed in the state tournament, fell in the opening round to Bridgeport, 79-71.

Other tests loom against Greenbrier East again, undefeated Robert C. Byrd, Fairmont Senior, Charleston Catholic and AAA Woodrow Wilson. Westside’s schedule overall is rated as the toughest in Class AA, according to the MetroNews Power Index.

“I wanted to really challenge my kids this year – the games are all practice in the regular season,” Cook said. “It has a little bit more meaning now with the seeding going into the state tournament and sectionals, but at the same time, you have to get your kids ready for the postseason. I think after this regular season schedule we have this year, my kids will be ready for the postseason.”

All five of Westside’s starters are putting up double-figures on the year, led by Corey Bowles and Justin Cogar who are scoring around 18 points per game. Also, point guard Will Fox puts up 11 points per game, along with Justin Kenneda and Levi Lambert who score around 10 points per outing.

It’s that core group for Cook who will be looking to make a trip back to Charleston for the state tournament next month.

“Class AA basketball is really strong and really competitive,” Cook said. “Last year we did get a little taste of the state tournament, but things didn’t go our way. Hopefully this year we can do things to get back and make a little deeper run.”

Boys Basketball Schedule
12/13/13 07:30PM  A  GREENBRIER EAST  83 81  W
12/17/13 07:30PM  H  INDEPENDENCE  85 43  W
12/20/13 07:30PM  H  TUG VALLEY  68 59  W
12/27/13 07:30PM  H  NORTH MARION  78 55  W
01/03/14 07:30PM  A  WYOMING EAST  71 79  L
01/10/14 07:30PM  H  LOGAN  90 68  W
01/13/14 07:30PM  A  LIBERTY (RALEIGH)  62 42  W
01/14/14 07:30PM  A  TUG VALLEY  60 49  W
01/17/14 07:30PM  H  OAK HILL  63 72  L
10  01/27/14 07:30PM  A  BLUEFIELD  62 57  W
11  02/01/14 02:00PM  A  WYOMING EAST  61 57  W
12  02/04/14 07:30PM  H  GREATER BECKLEY CHRISTIAN  56 54  W
13  02/07/14 07:30PM  H  WYOMING EAST  53 55  L
14  02/08/14 07:30PM  A  LOGAN  89 66  W
15  02/11/14 07:30PM  A  INDEPENDENCE   
16  02/12/14 07:30PM  H  GREENBRIER EAST   
17  02/14/14 07:30PM  A  ROBERT C. BYRD   
18  02/15/14 07:30PM  A  FAIRMONT SENIOR   
20  02/21/14 07:30PM  H  LIBERTY (RALEIGH)   
21  02/24/14 07:30PM  A  WOODROW WILSON   
22  02/25/14 07:30PM  A  OAK HILL   
23  02/28/14 07:00PM  A  SECTIONALS   
 wins: 11   lost: 3   ties: 0

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