FAIRBORN — Visiting Beavercreek fell behind early, went on a huge first-half scoring run, then survived a vicious Fairborn comeback to escape the Baker Middle School gym with a 51-49 win, Jan. 16.
In an early see-saw affair, Fairborn jumped out to the lead first with an 8-2 run to start the game, on what appeared to be Pajama Night in the Skyhawks student section.
Beavercreek (4-8) awoke from its slumber midway through the opening quarter to score the next nine points of the quarter, for an 11-8 first-quarter lead.
The Beavers extended that run through much of the second quarter, to go out in front 28-10 with 75 seconds left to play in the half. Despite a Shaunn Monroe buzzer-beating half court shot for Fairborn, Beavercreek led 30-19 at the break.
But then Fairborn (3-9) took that buzzer beater and turned the momentum in its favor in the second half. The Skyhawks chipped away at the Beavers’ lead, with K.J. Redmon’s score roughly midway through the fourth quarter pulling Fairborn to within three points of the lead.
Key scores from Jayme Johnson and Jon Alessandro, and converted free throws by Chris Herbort and Yousef Saleh, in the closing minutes enabled Beavercreek to hang on for the 51-49 win.
“Survival. That should be the headline of this game,” Beavercreek coach Mark Hess said. “We started out a little bit flat, then they got the early lead. But we just stayed the course and really did a nice job down the stretch.
“At the end of the second quarter and throughout most of the second half, their pressure hurt us. It’s something we always work on in practice, but I told them in the locker room that obviously we’ve gotta work on it some more.”
Fairborn jumped into a full-court pressure defense in order to try to force the Beavers into miscues. It worked, but the Skyhawks’ rally came up short. With 1.8 seconds left in the contest, Monroe intentionally missed his second freethrow attempt, in hopes that a teammate could snare the rebound and tie the game. But Beavercreek’s Jon Alessandro snagged the rebound and was fouled.
Alessandro missed both free throw tries, but Johnson grabbed the offensive rebound to end the game.
Jon Alessandro led Beavercreek with 12 points scored, Johnson finished with eight points while Horbort and Saleh each finished with seven. `Creek is back in action Friday, Jan. 19 for a 7:30 p.m. home game with Miamisburg.
Despite the loss, Fairborn coach Nathan Chivington appreciated his team’s grit in battling back.
“(The Beavers) went on their run, and that’s been our Achille’s Heel this season,” Chivington said. “We put some pretty good basketball together for a quarter or a string of minutes, but just to be consistent for a full 32 minutes, that’s really been our Achille’s Heel.
“Now that second half, we took care of the basketball and we showed what we were capable of doing. …. A different bounce here or there, and we could’ve won this game. We played hard in that second half. That was good basketball.”
Monroe led all scorers with 26 points after being held scoreless in the opening quarter. Redmon also got into double figures, scoring a dozen. The Skyhawks have another tough non-divisional Greater Western Ohio Conference opponent up next: They play at Sidney at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.