Westside keeps Polar Bears' fast break on ice
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Westside grounded Fairmont Senior's running game Friday night. This afternoon, the Renegades will have to do the same with high-scoring Miki Glenn of Bridgeport.
The defending Class AA champions throttled the Polar Bears in the second girls tournament semifinal, allowing three third-quarter points in a 51-41 victory. Westside (25-1) held Fairmont to 27.5 percent shooting, enjoyed a plus-10 rebounding margin and scored 16 points off turnovers.
But the most impressive stat for Westside was this: The Polar Bears had zero fast-break points.
"Every coach I talk to about Fairmont says they like to score in transition, get out and run," said Westside coach Jamie Lusk. "For us to hold them to zero points, our game plan worked. The girls did a great job of hustling back, getting stops ... and making them have to earn everything they got."
Not able to score on the run, the Polar Bears settled for a lot of jumpers, including 17 3-point attempts. In their 72-56 win Thursday over Clay County, they scored 16 fast-break points and tried only two 3-pointers.
The third quarter was particularly tough on coach Corey Hines' team, which saw a 24-19 halftime deficit swell to 34-22. The Polar Bears went 1 for 12 with a pair of turnovers, and seemed very unsure what to do at times.
Those eight minutes sapped most of the suspense from the final eight minutes, as Fairmont could only creep to within 41-34 with 3:57 left. Shortly after that, Megan Endicott scored on a tip-in and the Renegades then went 8 of 10 from the line to lead by as many as 14.
"A lot of times in these situations you might speak out of anger," Hines said. "But really, I don't think it's anything they did; I think it's what we didn't do. We didn't move. We made one pass and we were stagnant. It wasn't a defensive adjustment - they were in a zone.
"So it wasn't like they were denying, stopping us from cutting, you've got to pass and cut, you've got to move without the ball and put yourself in a better position to make shots."
Then again, that stagnation was aided by that lack of transition baskets. That, and perhaps the Renegades' commitment to start fast in the second half.
"We tell them every time, at halftime, the third quarter is our quarter," Lusk said. "Those first four minutes we come out and play hard. It just came down to defense - we got a hand in the shooter's face, and we kept them to one shot."
The defensive effort helped cover Westside's deficiencies, such as 32.7 percent shooting. Foul trouble hindered the top two scorers - Hope Lester sat several times and Danielle Brown fouled out.
Still, Lester had 15 points and 11 rebounds, Brown scored 10 points with four assists and Faith Davis had seven points, a game-high 12 rebounds and four steals. Morgan Spolarich had eight points, four assists and four steals.
In the championship game at 2:30 this afternoon, the Renegades must contend with Glenn, who has scored 73 points in two games, including a mind-bending 36 of 41 from the foul line. She also has 19 rebounds and 12 steals.
"We've got to do a great job of keeping her out of the lane," Lusk said. "We can't just let her drive to the basket and finish those left-handed shots she shoots. She's just a great player, but I feel like our defense is strong, and we've got to do it one more time."
Kaden Whaley led Fairmont (19-7) with 11 points, with Gabby Tenney adding 10. Emily Stoller was held to nine on 4-of-18 shooting.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.