By Dan Stillwell
For the Times West Virginian
Corey Hines was frustrated.
Fairmont Senior had run Clay County off the floor Thursday in the Class AA quarterfinals. Yet, against top-seeded Westside in Friday’s state semifinals, the Lady Polar Bears did not score a basket on the transition.
“It was what we didn't do,” Hines said after this team fell 51-41 to the defending state champions. “They were in a zone, but we didn't move. We like to run and we didn't get out and run.”
Westside (25-1) controlled the boards, 46-36, and had more steals, 13-12.
Fairmont, meanwhile made just 14 of 51 shots from the floor.
“We took too many jump shots, and if you miss, you suffer,” Hines said. “We took only two or three 3s last game and we won by 20. Today we lost by taking 27.
“That's not part of our coaching plan. Not all year.”
Westside certainly followed its game plan.
“We made sure we got stops,” coach Jamie Lusk said. “Fairmont has great athletes, and we did a very good job defensively against a team that likes to run.”
It took more than a good game plan, however. The 19-7 Polar Bears made Westside work as hard as any team has all season.
Especially since the Lady Renegades' main cog, all-state center Hope Lester, spent a good deal of time on the bench in foul trouble.
Lester was awarded her second foul with 2:54 left before halftime. Fairmont cut five points off the lead to go into the locker room trailing 24-19.
Westside then went on an 8-0 run to close the third quarter and led 34-22.
Danielle Brown and Morgan Spolarich, who were a combined 1 for 11 from the floor in the first half, scored four points apiece in the run.
Still, the game was far from settled. Lester picked up her fourth foul and went to the bench with 6:09 remaining in the contest and Westside up 35-22.
It could have been a turning point. Instead, the Lady Renegades got gritty. Danielle Brown drove in for a layup; backup guard Hope Davis found reserve forward Kristen Hash under the basket for an easy two.
“Every game, different people step up,” Lusk said. “Hope came in and gave us 10 big points off the bench. I'm very proud of that.”
Junior forward Megan Endicott hit a follow-up shot to make it 41-32 with 3:27 to play.
Gabby Tenney got two of the points back with a jump shot for Fairmont. Then Westside began parading to the foul lie.
Spolarich went 4 of 4 at the charity stripe, Lester hit two more and Brown and Faith Davis made 1 of 2 shots apiece to end any thoughts of a final Polar Bear rally.
“Westside did what they needed to do, Hines said. “They got the ball inside and made their free throws. We tip our hats to them. They were better than us tonight.”
Emily Stoller and Jenny Bundy hit 3-pointers in the final 49 seconds for Fairmont to narrow the final gap.
Whaley scored 11 points and Tenney finished with 10. Emily Stoller had nine points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Lester led Westside with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Brown scored 10 points and had four assists, while Spolarich had eight points, four steals and four assists. Endicott grabbed 12 boards to go with seven points.
Westside will play Bridgeport at 2:30 p.m. for the Class AA title.