WHS girls strong inside, have improved guard play

By John Conley

Westside will be looking to go low this year.

Lady Renegades coach Jamie Lusk says that’s a strength of his club.

“We’re very strong on the inside,” he pointed out.

His girls are unselfish. “They really love to find each other,” he said. They’re a very confident group.”

“The girls are working extremely hard,” the coach commented. “They’re learning to play together.

“I like their attitude,” he added.

WHS had big girls inside last season but struggled against the press.

“Our guard play is much better,” Lusk reported. “And we play a lot of different defenses. It gets better every game.”

Seniors for the Lady Renegades include Beth Bledsoe, a starter last year. “She’s a good shooter and extremely strong and physical,” the coach said. “And she is a very good passer.”

He calls Ashton Lester “probably our best defensive player” and provides leadership.

Katie Smith is a dangerous three-point shooter. She is currently out with an injury but is expected to return during the season.

“She’s our best shooter,” Lusk remarked. “She played a lot of basketball this summer.”

Junior post player Morgan Thomas is 6-2, was last year’s leading scorer and received all-state recognition.

“She has really improved,” the coach observed. “She is moving better, running the floor well and is playing with more confidence.”

Thomas has also shown the ability to step out and hit from mid-range.

“We’re looking for a breakout season from her,” said Lusk.

Kayla Alger, he says, “is a lot like Beth Bledsoe. She’s strong and physical.”

Lusk calls junior Shayna Christian “a great rebounder and can block shots.”

Tiyona Cowen, a guard, “is a good shooter and drives the ball well.

Sophomore Brooke Gallion showed her qualities as a point guard last year.

“We kind of threw her out there against Summers County and she did a good job,” Lusk remarked. “She just needs confidence.”

Carla Cook “is a strong point guard and a very good passer,” said Lusk. “She sees the floor really well and is a good teammate who encourages everyone.”

Freshman Brooke Russell “is a good athlete” and versatile enough to play several positions.

Westside isn’t playing in any tournaments this year. Mount View has been added to the schedule, and there is one game with James Monroe.

They’ll get plenty of challenges with two games each against pre-season No. 2 Wyoming East and No. 5 Summers County.

They also take on perennial power PikeView and play a game at AAA Princeton.

“Team chemistry,” Lusk says, will be a key to how the season goes. “We need to play together.

He thinks the Lady Renegades can adjust to different styles of play, both half-court and up tempo.

Westside’s first home game is Dec. 14 against Mount View.

John Conley can be reached at 304-732-6060 or on Twitter @PIHnews.



By John Conley

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