FAIRBORN — Springboro coach Tom Benjamin told his players that the road to the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s South Division crown would go through Fairborn. And so his Panthers went through, around and over the Skyhawks in the first half, for an eventual 52-37 win, Wednesday night in the Fairborn Memorial Fieldhouse.
“We had a terrific first half, but when you come out and lead somebody 37-9 after one half of basketball, I think some of our kids didn’t respond as well as they maybe should have in the second half,” Benjamin said. “Fairborn gave us a lot of trouble (in a 44-40 win) down at our place, and I really thought we’d have a similar game this time around. I’m not real happy with how we played in that second half, but that big first half for us, I think, made all the difference.”
The Panthers (13-4, 6-0 GWOC South) rolled out to an 18-6 lead after one quarter of play. They piled onto that lead by outscoring Fairborn (8-8, 3-3 GWOC South) by a 19-3 margin in the second quarter. Sophomore scoring leader Kelly Wurth scored 10 of her game-high 17 points in the first half to lead the Springboro charge.
Fairborn coach Bridgett Williams said Springboro’s Courtney Hillis was an unexpected factor early on. Hillis drained a pair of threes on her way to a 10-point night, all of which came in the first half. And ‘Boro teammate Kasey Hughes scored eight of her 10 points in the first half as well.
“When Hillis started hitting those threes, that gave us some trouble early on,” Williams said. “And we didn’t expect that kind of a game from (Hughes) either.
“But this game felt pretty similar to how we played them down in Springboro. The difference this time around was that they got off to an even bigger lead early on. Springboro plays at a different level than anybody we’ve seen this season. They had 10 offensive rebounds against us, and they scored on each one of them. There’s a reason why they’re leading our division, and that’s because they’re the best team in there.”
Despite a week that saw her miss a couple practices due to illness, Fairborn’s Krissie Bennett continued to improve. She led the Skyhawks with 10 points scored, while teammate Aaliyah Patten finished with nine and Kayla Patterson scored eight in the loss.
“She’s fantastic to watch,” Williams said. “She’s long, quick and runs around like a gazelle. And as soon as we get Katie Profitt back into our lineup, this team can take on a new dimension. We might surprise some people in the post season if we can get everyone healthy again. Having three big people — Profitt, Patterson and Bennett — in the lineup, may give some teams some problems.”
Profitt said her knee still wasn’t quite back to normal, but added that she hoped to be able to return to the court sometime next week. Fairborn will host Clayton Northmont on Saturday.
Springboro, winners of eight of their last 10 games, will host West Carrollton for their next game on Wednesday.