State Tournament: Endicott steps up for top seed Westside
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Westside Coach Jamie Lusk can thank two people in particular for the Renegades' ability to pull away from eighth-seeded PikeView in a 68-41 Class AA state tournament quarterfinal win Thursday night.
The first person Lusk owes gratitude to is 6-foot junior Megan Endicott, whose 14-point, 13-rebound performance came through the course of a game in which Renegades All-State center Hope Lester battled foul trouble and eventually fouled out.
The second person Lusk could thank is PikeView Coach Karen Miller.
Lester, a 6-foot sophomore center who averages 18 points per game for the defending state champions, drew her second foul with 7:25 remaining in the first half and Westside (24-1) leading 18-6. Lusk immediately pulled his star from the game, and almost as soon as he did, PikeView (14-11) sophomore center Lyndsay Hatfield went to work.
A high-octane player if one has been seen through the first two days of the state tournament, Hatfield, at 5-8, scored seven consecutive points - at one point acknowledging the PikeView student section with a "rock-and-roll" hand signal accompanied by a Gene Simmons-esque tongue waggle - and brought the Panthers to within 26-15 after Westside had taken as much as an 18-point lead.
But with about 2 minutes left in the half, Miller pulled Hatfield from the lineup, which had the effect of pulling the plug on a Kiss concert.
Westside went to the locker room at halftime with a 10-point lead, and by the 2:29 mark of the third quarter, the Renegades were up 44-22.
"That was fine by me," Lusk said about Hatfield leaving the game when she did.
"She was playing great. She's really developed over this season into one of the better players in our area. I kept up with her in the paper, and she's really come on strong for them at the end of the year.
"It was fine by me to see her come out."
Hatfield played 30 minutes, resting only the two minutes before halftime. She finished with team-highs of 19 points and eight rebounds.
"At that point and time, where she'd gained a lot of rhythm, it looked like she was getting a little tired. I thought maybe she needed a little break there," Miller said.
When Lester returned to the lineup to start the third, she looked very much like the player who dominated the 2012 state tournament and led the Renegades to their first state title. She finished with 26 points and nine rebounds in just 20 minutes.
When she picked up her third foul with 55 seconds left in the third, Endicott made sure there wasn't a reprisal of Hatfield's second-quarter run.
"I know I had to step up because Hope is our best post player. We know that. She's an all-stater. I knew I had to step up and hit shots," Endicott said.
She did so on both ends. Not only did she make seven of nine shots from the floor, but Endicott also matched Lester's game high of three blocked shots.
Westside junior guard Faith Davis also scored in double figures for the Renegades, finishing with 14 points. Westside senior Morgan Spolarich had a game-high eight assists.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT