6:06pm: Sportsline with Tony Caridi

‘Now or never’ for senior-laden Westside boys basketball

CLEAR FORK, W.Va. — The Westside boys basketball team has been on a mission this season to get back into Class AA state tournament title contention behind a veteran group

It was disappointment a year ago for head coach Shawn Jenkins’ team as the Renegades fell to Wyoming East in the sectional final 70-62.

That loss meant the Renegades had to go on the road to Bluefield in regional play — a 71-56 loss to the Beavers and ultimately a season that ended short of the state tournament.

Westside had nine juniors from that team a year ago return as senior leaders for this year.

“We didn’t finish the way we wanted to last year,” Jenkins said. “Our guys have been really focused because it left a bad taste in our mouths to come up short the way we did (in regional play).

“We won at Bluefield last year (during the regular season) and when we had to turn around and go back, it was kind of a heart-breaker,” he continued. “I like where we’re at right now. We’re blessed with our seniors. All five of our starters are seniors and the first two kids who come off the bench are seniors.”

Veterans like Jacob Ellis, Corey Hatfield, Shane Jenkins, Broc Smith, Travis Cook and Isaiah Lester, among others, have been at the core of this year’s Westside team.

Shane Jenkins is one of those senior leaders for Westside, looking for a return trip to the state tournament.

“These kids have played together for a long time and they all have their moments, they all have their leadership skills and I’ve seen every single one of them step up,” Jenkins said. “This is something that we’ve all tried to work for since they’ve been in middle school.

“It’s now or never – there is no tomorrow with this group,” he continued. “We have some young kids coming up that we like, but right now it’s now or never for this group.”

Westside (13-4) has challenged itself this year with its schedule, already picking up wins entering this week over Mingo Central, Greater Beckley Christian, Tug Valley, Bluefield, Wyoming East and Shady Spring.

The Renegades close out the season’s final couple of weeks with games against Logan, Oak Hill, Tug Valley, Mingo Central and Greater Beckley Christian.

“The whole point of our schedule is to be battle tested,” Jenkins said. “If we’re fortunate enough to get to the state tournament, we would have seen just about everything we needed to see to get there and fight for a state championship. You want your kids to be challenged.”

The re-emergence of Oak Hill this year to Region 3 in Class AA has made an already difficult path to the state tournament even tougher.

Oak Hill defeated Westside early this season 50-48 in a thriller.

“Oak Hill has a very good team – they’re long, they have length on them and can cause us some little problems,” Jenkins said. “Anytime you hold a team to 50 points, you’re supposed to win that game. But we didn’t shoot the basketball very well that night and (Oak Hill) made some buckets at the end.

“But we like our team,” he continued. “I see confidence in all of my kids and that’s exciting when you’re the coach and you see your kids playing with confidence like we are.”

2017-2018 Boys Basketball Schedule
1 12/05/17 7:30PM H – LIBERTY (RALEIGH)  89 39  W
2 12/15/17 7:30PM H – MINGO CENTRAL  85 62  W
3 12/22/17 7:30PM A – LOGAN  52 65  L
4 12/27/17 7:30PM H – PIKEVIEW  88 46  W
5 12/28/17 7:30PM H – GREATER BECKLEY CHRISTIAN  98 63  W
6 12/29/17 7:30PM H – TUG VALLEY  82 79  W
7 01/05/18 7:30PM A – WYOMING EAST  70 58  W
8 01/12/18 7:30PM H – OAK HILL  48 50  L
9 01/18/18 7:30PM A – PIKEVIEW  84 54  W
10 01/20/18 TBAPM A – SPRING VALLEY  77 61  W
11 01/23/18 7:30PM A – LIBERTY (RALEIGH)  95 35  W
12 01/26/18 7:30PM H – SHADY SPRING  79 41  W
14 01/30/18 TBAPM A – BLUEFIELD  86 57  W
15 02/03/18 TBAPM A – WYOMING EAST  71 53  W
16 02/07/18 7:30PM A – SHADY SPRING  63 50  W
17 02/10/18 7:30PM H – WYOMING EAST  69  72 L
18 02/14/18 7:30PM H – LOGAN   
19 02/16/18 7:30PM A – OAK HILL   
20 02/17/18 7:30PM A – TUG VALLEY   
21 02/20/18 7:30PM A – MINGO CENTRAL   
 wins: 13   lost: 4   ties: 0

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