CENTERVILLE — The Fairmont Firebirds came out with a sense urgency and rode an emotional student section to race out to a huge lead and held on to advance in the tournament with a 51-43 win over the Wayne Warriors Monday night.
In a game that was postponed due to an unfortunate incident involving a Fairmont student-athlete, Fairmont was focused. Besides out-executing Wayne on both ends of the court, almost everything the Firebirds put up seemed to drop.
“We were taking shots but we weren’t really in sync,” said Wayne coach Nathan Martindale. “We’re not going to make any excuses for anything. We definitely wanted to reach out to Fairmont, especially with their loss. We worked all season for this moment we just didn’t play well in the first half, but our kids fought back; extremely resilient the second half.”
By the time the first quarter buzzer sounded, the shell-shocked Warriors were down 16-6. The second quarter wasn’t much better for the Warriors, as the Firebirds extended their lead to 29-11 at the half.
Wayne increased its intensity and was able to cut the Fairmont lead in half in the third quarter, closing out the quarter down 37-28.
In the fourth quarter Wayne was able to force turnovers, but could not finish in transition frequently, but it was still able to cut the Fairmont lead to 3-points at 44-41 with about 3 minutes left in the game.
The huge deficit early proved to be too much for Wayne to overcome, as it ran out of gas in the closing minutes. The Warriors rushed shots, rimmed out two crucial wide-open three-point shots and committed costly fouls on defense due to slow defensive support on dump passes.
Fairmont hit its free throws in the closing minutes of the game and put itself through to face the Lakota East Thunderhawks at 7 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena.
“I’m going to miss my senior class,” Martindale added. “I thought we got a lot better as the season went on; we grew a lot this year. We have a lot of work to do as a program. We have a JV group that was 16-3 this year, a freshmen group that lost in the championship game, a championship 8th-grade team that won back-to-back titles.”
WAY 06 11 28 43 – 60
FAIR 16 29 37 51 – 51
Wayne: Ronnie Hampton 22, Rashad McKee 11, Brian Hill 1, Tallice Landers 7, Cam Fancher 2. Totals: 17-5-43.
Fairmont: Ryan Hall 6, Kellan Bochenek 24, Andre O’Daniel 2, Anthony Johnson 2, Deshawn Brown 6, Chris Thompson 4, Kaleb Hall 7. Totals: 17-12-51.
Three-point goals: Wayne 4 (McKee 2, Landers, Hampton); Fairmont 5 (Bochenek 3, Hall 2).
Records: Wayne 14-10, Fairmont 17-8.