By JONATHAN GREENE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
PikeView knew playing Westside would be a tall order.
The defending Class AA state champion Lady Renegades brought an unblemished record to Gardner while featuring six-foot sophomore standout Hope Lester.
Foul trouble limited Lester, but the Lady Panthers couldn’t take advantage as Westside pulled away for a 58-28 win on Tuesday night.
“Anytime you come to PikeView, it’s always going to be a battle,” Westside head coach Jamie Lusk said. “[PikeView coach] Karen Miller does a great job with her girls here. They always battle. We traveled two hours to get here and it’s a good test for us.
“I’m proud of the girls with how they stepped up and battled. We’re fighting a few injuries, got some soreness from last night’s game with Summers County and they were able to overcome those and step up and make plays for us.”
PikeView was limited to single digits in every quarter and could only connect on 7-of-45 attempts from the field. The Lady Panthers had the lead for a short time in the first quarter before Westside eventually pulled away.
“We ran our offense and got some shots we needed,” PikeView head coach Karen Miller said. “Our defense was excellent. When our shots are falling, that helps a whole lot.
“They didn’t fall in the second half. Westside is number one for a reason. They’ve got good shooters and played good defense.”
Neither team could find their shot early with the only points coming off of free throws by Westside’s Lester and PikeView’s Lyndsay Hatfield. Megan Endicott’s lay-up two minutes in was the first basket and gave the Renegades a 4-1 lead.
Hope Nester answered with score then Alexis May hit Courtney White to give the Lady Panthers the lead at 5-4. Lester connected on a three with just over three minutes left and that would be as close as PikeView would get the rest of the game. Endicott followed with a lay-in and Morgan Spolarich added a steal and bucket.
Just before the end of the quarter, Laura Hill found herself open and banked in a three to make it 11-8 after eight minutes.
“It was a different game from the first time we played them,” Miller said. “Our intensity was great. We fought to the end.
“First half was excellent. Our offense kind of sputtered, but our defense at times was good.”
Westside took advantage of several PikeView turnovers to grow their lead to nine before Lester picked up her third foul and went to the bench.
The Lady Panthers looked like they would take advantage as White hit a jumper from the top of the key. However, the Renegades had other plans and closed the quarter up 10, 24-14.
“It’s a blessing, because we work on our conditioning. We try to make sure that the farther the game goes along that we can step up and get stops on defense which has a been our strength,” Lusk said.
He added “We’re averaging holding teams under 30 points. I thought our defense stepped up and played well when our shooting wasn’t exactly where it usually is. I’m proud of the way we battled the last three quarters and pushed the lead out.”
PikeView kept battling to start the second half as they switched up defenses, but Westside would not let up.
Danielle Brown connected from deep and Lester and Faith Davis added quick scores to make it 31-14. Hatfield hit a three to bring PikeView closer, but the Lady Panthers could only manage one more basket in the quarter – a jumper from Madison May at the buzzer.
“We just have to become a better offensive team,” Miller commented. “We’ve got to continue to work on it and get better.”
Westside never let PikeView get closer than 19 in the fourth quarter as their lead grew to as many 30 points. Both teams went to their bench late in the game.
Lester paced the Renegades with 15 points. Brown added 13 and Spolarich finished with 11. Davis and Enicott had nine and eight respectively.
“It was good to see the starters step up especially the second half,” Lusk said. “Our guards started to attack the basket, we got some easy buckets and we were getting to the foul line. It adds to our team when we get production from all our girls.
“Hope Lester is inside is one of the best players in the state. When we get production from our guards, we are a tough team to beat.”
No Lady Panther had more than six points. Hatfield and White each had six points. Hope Nester finished with five.
PikeView (5-6) hosts James Monroe on Thursday. Westside (12-0) visits Independence on Monday.
At PikeView High School
Morgan Spolarich 11, Hope Lester 15, Danielle Brown 13, Faith Davis 9, Megan Endicott 8, Lakyn Walker 2 Totals- 23 8-12 58.
Laura Hill 3, Hope Nester 5, Madison May 4, Alexis May 3, Lyndsay Hatfield 6, Courtney White 6, Savannah Runion 1. Totals- 7 12-22 28.
Westside.............................11 19 19 9 – 54
PikeView...............................7 12 24 25 – 68
Three-field goals — W 4 (Brown 3, Lester); PV 2 (Hill, Hatfield). Fouled out — none.