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Strong finish sends Bridgeport into semifinals

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.

In a tale of two halves, sixth-seeded Bridgeport shot a blistering 87 percent from the floor in the final two quarters to seal a 79-71 Class AA quarterfinal win over No. 3 seed Westside Thursday in the boys state tournament at the Civic Center.

The Indians shot a dismal 33 percent in the first half, and most of their futility came during an 18-1 second-quarter Westside run explosion that allowed the Renegades to transform a 10-point disadvantage into a seven-point halftime lead.

Bridgeport coach Gene Randolph said his players took some poor shots during that first-half dry spell, but took nothing but good ones after that.

"I harped on them for taking bad shots, [because] we just didn't have the luxury of squandering possessions," he said "In the second half I think they finally got [the idea]. We didn't take a lot of shots, but the ones we did I thought were pretty good looks. Eighty-seven percent? We'll take that."

With several key Westside players in foul trouble, Bridgeport's guards were able to get to the rim without much trouble. The Indians attempted 16 field goals in the second half and made 14 of them.

They also went to the free-throw stripe a lot - 25 times in the second half alone. For the game, Bridgeport converted 31 of 39 foul shots.

Senior guard Jordan Haywood went a perfect 10 for 10 from the line and 9 for 17 from the floor on his way to a career-high 28-point performance.

"In the first half, my man was playing off me," Haywood said. "I was taking jumpers and they weren't falling, so I had to get aggressive. I got to the rim, got fouled and made the free throws."

Westside coach Nick Cook said his team's foul problems stemmed from poor defense.

"We didn't do a good job of keeping them out of the paint," he said. "We told our guys before the game that we had to do a good job of shutting down penetration. Our on-ball defense was lacking, to say the least. We didn't rotate correctly, we didn't take charges and we let them get to the rim way too easily in the middle of the floor."

Jason Scarlett, Westside's 6-foot-4 center, spent all of the third quarter and part of the fourth on the bench with four personals and fouled out shortly after returning to the floor late in the game.

With Scarlett in the game for most of the first half, the Renegades enjoyed a 26-14 rebounding advantage. Without him, Bridgeport was able to keep up with Westside on the boards.

Sophomore forward Justin Cogar's 19-point, nine-rebound performance led Westside. Despite foul problems, Scarlett registered a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Corey Bowles and Levi Lambert finished with 14 and 11 points, respectively, for the Renegades, who finished the season 18-7.

Bridgeport also placed four players in double figures -- Haywood with 28, Chase Robey with 13, Ryan Sprouse with 11 and Tyler Sprouse with 10.

The Indians will face No. 2 seed Fairmont Senior, a 55-48 winner over Scott, in today's 11:15 a.m. semifinal. Fairmont Senior won both of the schools' regular-season meetings, 61-54 on Jan. 5 and 76-50 on Jan. 29.

Reach John McCoy at 304-348-1231 or johnmccoy@wvgazette.com.


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