FAIRBORN — Playing a stingy brand of team defense, Saturday’s 63-35 Fairborn girls basketball win over Greater Western Ohio Conference, South Division foe Xenia was possibly a sign of things to come for the Skyhawks’ postseason.
But winning on Senior Night was “bittersweet” as well for the three Fairborn seniors who were playing their last games in the Fairborn Memorial Fieldhouse.
“Once we started getting on defense and communicating and encouraging each other, that really gets us pumped up,” said Fairborn senior Katie Profitt. “Once we start connecting, everything goes great.”
With Xenia stuck with more turnovers (23) than points (22) on the scoreboard through three quarters of play, Fairborn flexed its defensive muscles in its regular season finale.
“We really emphasized our defensive play,” Fairborn coach Bridgett Williams said. “And it’s difficult to do that against Xenia, because they are very good athletically. And to try and use this game to practice our defense was very difficult, because of their athleticism. Our girls did a really good job of staying focused, with it being Senior Night and all, I thought they did a pretty good job.”
Xenia’s only lead of the game came when Ella Walsh scored on a lay-up from the right side to give the Buccaneers (5-15, 3-7 GWOC South) a brief 5-4 lead. Just over a minute later, Fairborn’s Kayla Patterson scored a pair of her game-high 25 points to put the Skyhawks ahead for good.
Fairborn (13-9, 6-4 GWOC South) led by 10 points (18-8) after one quarter of play, and by 12 points (31-19) at halftime. They then outscored the Buccaneers 19-3 in the third quarter to pull away even more.
Xenia coach Terry Toliver pulled his starters and replaced them with Raygn Cokes, Cora Stevens, Infiniti Carr, Makenna Taylor and Breanna Burnett for most of the final quarter of play, and the girls stayed even with the Skyhawks for that quarter, both teams scoring 13 points.
Taylor and Autumn Meyer led Xenia in scoring with six points apiece.
After the game, Toliver was so exasperated that he politely deferred to assistant coach Tony Welsh for comment.
“Right now, we’re struggling with our very young guards,” Welsh said. “And we’re also not helping the guards out by trying to get the ball. We’re all sitting back and waiting for the pass, and that isn’t helping them at all. If you look at the fourth quarter, when we changed the lineup, the entire team’s attitude changed. We know that we’re going to get a lot of hustle and hard work and that they’ll get after it.
“We can live with the mistakes they’re making now, because they are so young.”
Welsh said that at one point, Xenia was playing four freshmen and a sophomore during the team’s successful fourth quarter.
Xenia begins postseason play at 10 a.m. Saturday with a game against top-seeded Centerville at Wayne High School in Huber Heights. Fairborn has a first-round bye, but will face the winner of the Springboro-Piqua game at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Troy High School.
In a touching show of sportsmanship prior to the game, Fairborn first presented Xenia seniors Africa Strodes and Aminah Jabbar with single roses in recognition of their final seasons. Skyhawks seniors Stephanie Mosher, Patterson and Profitt were then presented small bouquets.