Fifth straight trip to state for Beavers
Bluefield (59) Vs. Westside (57)
for the Daily Telegraph
CLEAR FORK — Many times it has been said, “it is a shame one of these teams has to lose.” It could not have been any more true Thursday night at Westside High School.
Bluefield scored the final bucket of the night as time expired in overtime to defeat Westside 59-57 and advance to the West Virginia Boys State High School Basketball Tournament next week in Charleston.
“I thought I had been in the greatest basketball game when we lost to Wyoming East seven years ago — until tonight,” said Bluefield head coach Buster Large, whose Beavers will be in Charleston for a fifth straight year. “There was no losers in this game. What a class act by (Westside) players and fans. I am not sure how many people were here, but I have never seen a crowd like this.”
From the opening tip, all in attendance could easily see the game would be a battle that resembled a Rocky Balboa fight.
Westside jumped out to a 12-8 lead in the first quarter behind Larry Cook Jr.’s eight points, but Mookie Collier and Jeremy Thompson answered to give the Beavers a 15-14 lead after one.
Trailing 16-14, Westside leading scorer Shane Jenkins pulled up for a jump shot and twisted his ankle on the landing, basically ending his night. Jenkins fought back and tried to play, but he just could not go. It was a tough blow for the Renegades, but they would keep fighting.
“Losing your leading scorer hurts. But, we had a lot of kids step up for us and we had great senior leadership. It just shows the character of this team,” said Westside head coach Nick Cook.
Bluefield pushed the lead out to six points, mainly behind big shots from Devin Goins. Goins hit two big 3-pointers and scored eight in the quarter. But Cook answered, bringing his team back time and time again to cut the lead to 31-27 at halftime.
The Beavers dominated the offensive glass all half and most of the game but could not convert the extra attempts into scores to spread the lead. Every time Westside looked like it was in trouble, it found a way to scrap their way back into the game.
Westside turned the game around, holding the Beavers to just eight points in the third quarter.
Cook drilled a 3-pointer at the 2:27 mark and the “Clear Fork Crazies” erupted, nearly raising the roof off of the building. The Renegades closed the quarter on a 5-2 run to take a 42-39 lead.
With the crowd in an absolute frenzy, Collier opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to tie the game. Cook made a foul shot to give Westside the lead. Tyler Easley hit a bucket in the lane and Collier got loose for a layup and a 46-43 Bluefield advantaged.
Westside answered with scores from Tre Colucci and a sweet runner from Brian Choate to re-take the lead, 47-46.
Again, the Beavers got a huge bucket from someone not named Thompson or Collier. Jaray Williams stepped up for a 3-pointer at the 2:40 mark.
Cook answered yet again for the Renegades to tie the game at 49 with just over two minutes left in regulation.
Easley scored off of an offensive rebound and Elijah Puett responded with two free throws at the 49 second mark.
Bluefield attacked with Collier, who had two good looks in the lane, but he was rejected both times by Puett to keep the score tied. Bluefield, though, grabbed the offensive rebound and called timeout.
Collier again attacked the basket, but was fouled before the shot with three seconds left in regulation. With the noise at an incredible level, the building at times felt to be shaking from the Westside crowd. The Collier attempt hit off the front of the rim, sending the game to overtime at 51-all.
Cook opened the overtime with a baseline drive for a score, but Bluefield responded with six straight points, that seemed to doom the Renegades.
Not with Larry Cook on the floor.
“Larry Cook is one of the best senior leaders I have ever had. You want it to be said that you left it all on the floor. He left his heart, his soul, his blood and his tears on the floor tonight,” said Coach Cook. “I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Cook came down and buried a 3-pointer and Westside called a timeout with 30 seconds left to play.
On the inbounds play, Bluefield almost turned it over, got it back, then Westside made the steal, getting the ball to Puett who was fouled.
Puett missed the first attempt, but was true on the second to tie the game with less than seven seconds left.
The ball was thrown into to Thompson, who raced the length of the floor attacking the rim. The Renegades made a huge defensive play, but again the offensive rebound went to Bluefield.
Collier was streaking down the floor behind Thompson. He scooped the ball out of the air and hit the shot of his life just before the buzzer, giving Bluefield the win and fifth straight trip to the state tournament.
“It was so tough out there with that crowd screaming so loud and playing a great Westside team,” said Collier. “When I saw Jeremy driving down the court, I just trailed him in case it missed. I was fortunate to grab it. When I saw it go in, I was so amazed.”
Collier’s great play led the Beavers, but Large attributed the win to a huge team effort.
“I am so, so happy for our team. We just kept battling. We would get up, they would come back. I have so much admiration for how Westside played tonight and for Coach Cook. Coming down and winning in this atmosphere is incredible,” said Large. “Mookie was incredible, but we won this game on team work. Devin Goins hit huge shots, Easley diving on the floor. I can’t say enough how much a team effort this was.”
Bluefield will play Fairmont Senior Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m. in the opening game of the state basketball tournament in the Charleston Civic Center.

at Clear Fork
Jeremy Thompson 6 2-2 15, Mookie Collier 8 3-8 20, Devin Goins 4 0-0 11, Tyler Easley 2 1-2 5, Jaray Williams 3 0-0 8. Totals: 23 6-12 59.
WESTSIDE (15-10)
Brian Choate 1 0-0 2, Larry Cook 8 11-13 29, Isaiah Lester 1 0-0 3, Shane Jenkins 2 0-0 4, Elijah Puett 3 5-8 11, Tre Colucci 3 0-0 6, Corey Hatfield 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 16-21 57.
Bluefield......................15 14 8 14 8 — 59
Westside.....................14 13 15 9 6 — 57
3-point goals: B: 7 (Thompson, Collier, Goins 3, Williams 2); WS: 3 (Cook 2, Lester). Fouled out: None.
Game Scoreboard
Bluefield 15 14 8 14 8 59
Westside 14 13 15 9 6 57
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