FAIRBORN — In a noisy Fairborn Memorial Fieldhouse, where even the opposing cheerleaders were trying to out tumble each other, the Fairborn Skyhawks remained cool at the free-throw line to claim Friday night’s 69-62 victory over Greater Western Ohio Conference, South Division foe Xenia.
Fairborn converted 20 of 30 free throws for the game, and Jordan Pumroy, and seniors Jordan Michael and Malik Jacobs combined to hit their last 8-of-10 tries in the game’s final two minutes to ensure the win.
In a game that saw hard fouls, amazing long-distance scores and plenty of hustle, both coaches came away feeling pretty good about their team’s effort.
“I love our effort, but I didn’t love our execution at all times,” said Xenia coach Kent Anderson. “Our half-court offense wasn’t always executed very well, but we found a way to use high ball screens tonight, and kind of freelanced off of it and did a pretty good job of keeping us in the game.”
Xenia starter C.J. Jones and Fairborn’s Jacobs both stopped play in the second half after hitting the floor hard in front of the rowdy Fairborn pep band. While the band may have played the song earlier in the night, there didn’t seem to be a “Whole Lotta Love” in the paint for this one. Both players later returned to action, however, and their were no signs of hard feelings after the game.
Fairborn’s Brandon Lilley hit a game-high four 3-pointers as part of his career-high and team-high 16 point effort. The Skyhawks’ Big Two seniors — Michael and Jacobs — each finished with 14 points, Pumroy finished with 12 and Ryan Profitt tossed in nine in the win.
“I wish we would’ve made a few more free throws down the stretch, because whenever we didn’t knock them down Xenia was right there to capitalize. But yet, late in the game, we’re still on top. Whether it’s 1-of-2 or 2-of-2, those are the type of shots that you have to hit in pressure situations,” Fairborn coach Nathan Chivington said. “The more games we play like this, the more comfortable our guys will be, and they’ll understand what it takes to win.”
Chivington said Lilley’s performance was huge for the team.
“Man, what a night he had! … Especially early on in the game. He was feeling it and we were giving him the basketball, and these guys understand that, when they’ve got a guy who is hot, they want to give him the basketball,” Chivington said.
One guy who wasn’t hot was Xenia’s Jaylin Cumberland. He came into Friday night’s contest averaging 13 points a game, but was held scoreless in the first half before finishing with six.
Clayton Kadel led Xenia (5-5, 2-2 GWOC South) with a game-high 17 points, while Khiyani Harris finished with 11 points and Brent Bauer (who usually averages 13.3 points a game) finished with 10.
Fairborn can enjoy the win until Tuesday, when they’ll host Kenton Ridge for a nonleague battle.
Xenia has to regroup for another test today. They’ll host a solid Dayton Meadowdale squad at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
“I told them they can grieve this one tonight, but they’ve gotta put it behind them tomorrow and come ready to play against Meadowdale,” Anderson said.