By Scott Halasz
BEAVERCREEK — On Senior Night at Beavercreek High School on Saturday it was fitting that it was a senior who gave the girls basketball team a spark.
Maddi Shannon scored 12 of her game-high 14 points in the first half helping the Beavers pluck the Fairmont Firebirds 47-35 inside Ed Zink Fieldhouse. It was the final home game for Shannon and seven other seniors and the ‘Creek guard made the most of it.
“It’s our last time playing here,” Shannon said. “It thought this would be the time. We just tried to move the ball and get people open.”
Shannon was the recipient of the open looks which helped the Beavers (16-6, 7-3 Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division) solve the Fairmont zone defense. Shannon hit a pair of first-half, three-point shots, the first of which gave the Beavers their first lead, and the second of which increased a three-point lead to a 16-10 margin midway through the second half. She also scored on a couple of fast-break buckets.
“We weren’t able to get the ball inside,” Coach Ed Zink said. “We’ve got to get our zone offense fixed. Maddi hit some shots which is what we needed. She really got us off to a good start.”
Not only was it needed to help neutralize the Fairmont defense, it was key to Beavercreek overcoming all the pre-game festivities of celebrating the seniors’ accomplishments.
“Senior night’s always a tough one,” Zink said. “But when you’ve got eight seniors, that’s over half (the team). It gets emotional for them. It gets emotional for the underclassmen. Their mind’s everywhere.”
That may have led to Fairmont taking an early lead and Beavercreek not scoring until a pair of Shannon free throws with 4:46 left in the first quarter. But the defense took over, forcing 10 Fairmont turnovers in the first quarter leading to eight Beavercreek points.
The Beavers led 20-14 at halftime but did turn the ball over eight times in the second quarter. Zink went with seniors almost the entire time, using combinations the players were not used to, leading to some miscues.
Fairmont cut the lead down to two twice, but but a pair of fast-break buckets by Keaira Youngblood and another by Lexi Moore helped give the Beavers a 29-22 lead after three. Shannon scored to open the fourth and then a pair of Moore buckets gave the Beavers a 35-22 lead and they were never threatened again.
“(Fairmont) went man-to-man (defense) and we got three quick buckets like that,” Zink said.
Senior Rachel Mitchell scored the final bucket with a jumper at the horn.
Senior Kayla Shields hit a pair of three-pointers and finished with eight points along with Moore. Madison Connally-Banks led Fairmont (7-15, 2-8 GWOC Central) with 11 points and six rebounds.
Prior to the game the eight seniors were recognized by the school. This group helped the Beavers win their most games in the regular season since the 2009-10 team also won 16 games.
“This senior class, they’re great kids,” Zink said. “I’m going to miss them to death. They’re so unselfish. These kids, not one of them I wouldn’t take as my own. It’s tough to say goodbye to them.”
Shields and Shannon are four-year varsity players. Most of the others have been on varsity for three years.
“I grew up with them,” Aleah Caskey said. “I’ll really miss them. It was always fun because they made it fun.”
Added Mitchell, “We’ve all been playing together since Beavercreek Stars. It’s bittersweet. We always joke around with Zink. We have a good connection. I’m going to miss that.”
Chrystal Fox said she developed a lot of friendships this year but also will never forget being part of an undefeated reserve team last year.
“I met so many new and awesome people during my season playing and made a lot of friends,” she said. “Playing at Beavercreek was such a great and fun experience for me. I grew so much both mentally and socially. I loved going 22-0 my junior year, it was the best feeling.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.