By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
There was an audacity from Hope in Thursday's girls basketball playoff clash between PikeView and Westside high schools.
In the season's third meeting between two schools whose standouts have the same first name, it was the Hope wearing the Westside Renegades uniform who was smiling at the end.
Hope Lester scored 19 or her 26 points in the second half to help the top-seeded team in the Class AA state tournament, Westside (24-1), run away from the PikeView Panthers (14-11) by a final score of 68-41 at the Charleston Civic Center.
Lester said, “I wanted the ball, and I knew if I got it, I had to go up strong. They were physical, but I knew what I had to do. I used my post moves, and I penetrated, and did what I can do.”
When the Panthers concentrated on Lester, other Renegades were ready to do their part. Megan Endicott and Faith Davis each scored 14 points for Westside, going a combined 12 for 19 from the floor.
The Panthers' Hope Nester said, “We were keying on Hope (Lester) and sometimes, when you key on one player, you tend to let someone else score more than what you expect.”
“That's the game. When you have good shooters, shooting good shots, that makes the difference in the game.”
Sophomore Lyndsay Hatfield paced the Panthers with 19 points and eight rebounds.
“I knew I had to rebound well, and score, to even have a chance in this game,” she said.
Hatfield said about Lester, “She's definitely a lot bigger than I am. Our other post, Courtney White, she stopped her in the first quarter. She only had two points, and I thought that was a good accomplishment.”
Hatfield's first basket gave PikeView its last lead, 4-2. Her bucket from the key brought the Panthers within 7-6 just 3:18 into the contest.
Then Westside, the defending champions of Class AA, started looking like it as they scored 14 unanswered points in the middle of the first half to build a 24-6 margin.
PikeView head coach Karen Miller said, “We tried different defenses against them. At the beginning, Westside really didn't know what we were doing. Then they finally figured it out.”
Westside head coach Jamie Lusk said that in a “typical” first-round state tournament game, “We had to fight some jitters, some nervousness. PikeView came ready to play. That first half, they were really getting after us on defense and were making it tough for us to get good shots.”
“I thought we stepped up in the second half and made some nice plays – and got back to doing what we do well, getting the ball inside.”
He also had a defensive trick up his sleeve in the first half.
Lusk said, “We started off into a man-to-man and they were getting to the basket on us. So we went to the box-and-one, and Faith (Davis) drew the assignment of guarding Nester there. That's one of our better defenses. … We thought we would maybe throw them off by going to that defense because we've never played it against them. I thought we were very effective in that.”
At one point during the Westside splurge, PikeView was playing with only one starter, Hatfield, on the court.
Miller said, “We were just trying different things. All season long, we've mixed it up (with) bench players as well. We were going to see who could get a run, what group could work to make something happen.”
After Westside's run, Hatfield scored seven straight points to cut the gap to nine points, 24-15, with 3:16 remaining before halftime. Then Miller substituted Hatfield out.
Miller said, “At that point in time, where she had a lot of rhythm, it looked like she was getting a little tired, so I thought maybe she needed a little break, there.”
Miller said, “We kept trying to tell the girls just to cut into their lead. Then we kind of got out of the rhythm and that's when they really got their big lead.”
The Panthers were within striking distance, 26-16, at halftime, though they had shot 25 percent from the floor and 2-for-5 at the foul line. Westside made 10 of 21 field goal tries in the first half.
PikeView's hopes diminished when the Panthers opened the second half with a pair of turnovers, and Westside went on a 16 to 6 run, earning a 44-22 lead when Lester blocked a PikeView shot, grabbed the rebound, and personally went coast-to-coast for the layup with 2:26 on the third-quarter clock.
Davis' final points of the night, on a layup, closed out the third-quarter scoring and the Renegades held a 49-28 lead that they protected through the final quarter.
Miller said, “Westside, they've got some excellent shooters, an excellent team. We tried different defenses, but they would change their offense for every defense (we used).”
Lusk said, “All season … there's been somebody different every night to step up and play for us. These girls are so unselfish. They just want to see their friends and their family – because that's how we think of ourselves, as a family -- succeed.”
PikeView concluded the game with a 27.8 percent success rate in field goal attempts and went 0 for 10 from three-point range. Westside shot at a 45.3 percent clip from the floor and out-rebounded the Panthers 51 to 32.
Nester concluded her junior year on a bad knee with 12 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. White had six boards.
Miller said, “I told the girls in the locker room that we've had a good season. People didn't expect us to be here.... I'm proud of the girls. Only one senior (Laura Hill, will be leaving the team), and we're going to work on coming back next year.”
Hatfield drew extended praise from the opposing coach.
Lusk said, “She was playing great. Lyndsay's a good player. She's really developed, over this season, to become one of the better players in our area, and I've kept up with her in the paper … and she's really come on strong for them at the end of the year.”
Now, as PikeView puts its basketball uniforms into storage, the Renegades will focus on a semifinal game tonight against either Clay County or Fairmont Senior, who played in the late game on Thursday night.
Lusk said, “We're happy to be here and happy with the win. … These girls have come a long way. I'm so proud of how they've developed. And it's all them. They've put in the work.”
—Contact Tom Bone
at Charleston Civic Center
Hill 0-2 0-0 0, Nester 4-11 4-6 12, A.May 0-3 0-0 0, Ly.Hatfield 8-18 3-9 19, White 1-5 1-2 3, Fralin 0-0 0-0 0, Bryant 0-3 0-0 0, M.May 0-8 3-4 3, La.Hatfield 0-1 0-0 0, Meekins 0-0 0-0 0, Peyton 1-1 0-0 2, Runion 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 15-54 11-23 41.
Spolarich 3-9 0-1 6, F.Davis 5-10 2-2 14, Me.Endicott 7-9 0-4 14, D.Brown 2-12 1-3 6, Lester 11-15 3-3 26, Walker 0-1 0-0 0, Hash 1-5 0-0 2, H.Davis 0-2 0-0 0, S.Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Ma.Endicott 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-64 6-13 68.
PikeView..............................6 10 12 13 — 41 Westside.............................18 8 23 19 — 68
3-Point Goals—PikeView 0-10 (Nester 0-2, M.May 0-2, Ly.Hatfield 0-3, Bryant 0-3), Westside 4-17 (F.Davis 2-5, Lester 1-2, D.Brown 1-8, Spolarich 0-2). Fouled Out—Nester, Lester. Rebounds—PikeView 32 (Ly.Hatfield 8), Westside 51 (Me.Endicott 13). Assists—PikeView 9 (Nester 2), Westside 17 (Spolarich 8). Total Fouls—PikeView 14, Westside 19. A—na.