Fairmont Senior's Tavon Horton (left) defends a shot by Scott's Cody Brown.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Scott's game plan worked to near perfection Thursday, but it was missing just one ingredient.The seventh-seeded Skyhawks couldn't hit a shot - whether it was from 3 feet or 3-point range - in an inspired effort before succumbing to No. 2 Fairmont Senior 55-48 in the Class AA quarterfinals. A crowd of 6,836 attended the three-game first session at the Charleston Civic Center.The Polar Bears (20-6) will take on No. 6 Bridgeport (19-7) for the third time this season at 11:15 a.m. today in the semifinals. Bridgeport pulled a 79-71 upset of No. 3 Westside in Thursday's opening round. Fairmont has beaten the Indians twice during the regular season (61-54 and 76-50).Scott shot only 25.6 percent (11 of 43) from the field Thursday, including misfiring on all eight 3-pointers. The Skyhawks, though, began driving the ball to the basket early when they saw their shots weren't falling and converted 26 of 28 free-throw attempts to keep within striking distance.
"During practice we went through our sets a little bit more thinking the looks were going to be harder to get,'' said Scott coach Nick Cabell. "I think at the beginning of the game we got exactly what we wanted maybe earlier than we anticipated. Sometimes [the shots] go and sometimes they don't. That's basketball.''The Skyhawks even took the lead in the second quarter (16-15) after sophomore small forward Eric May's two foul shots and only trailed 20-18 at halftime. Fairmont's athleticism began to take its toll in the second half as the Polar Bears went on an 8-0 run near the end of the third quarter to take a 32-23 advantage.Scott pulled within five points (43-38) with 2:24 left in the fourth quarter on senior guard Matt Dolan's putback, but Fairmont made just enough from the charity stripe (4 of 6) in the final minute for the victory.Senior guard Travon Horton and junior guard Jarin Hilson netted 17 points apiece for Fairmont Senior. Horton also contributed seven rebounds and four steals while Hilson converted 13 of 19 foul shots and added six assists. Senior center Shaquille Washington turned in eight points, 10 boards and two blocks for the Polar Bears.
"I think we did a pretty good job in the second half with our defense of cutting down our fouling,'' said Fairmont Senior coach David Retton. "I thought our defense was good for the game, but we bailed them out sometimes and put them on the line. Our guys hung in there and really defended well.''Fairmont shot just 24 percent in the opening half, but hit 54.5 percent after halftime."We knew that they like to get up and down the floor, draw foul shots and push it any time they can,'' said Cabell, whose team outrebounded the Polar Bears 37-31."One of our main focuses was to get back on defense and keep them in a half-court game. We did a pretty good job of it. The score was right where we wanted it. Just a couple made layups or a couple of turnovers and it could have been closer at the end.''Dolan Scott's only senior, finished with 18 points but on 3-of-13 shooting, although he did hit all 12 of his free throws and added seven rebounds and three steals. Skyhawks junior point guard Cody Brown added 14 points and five boards while sophomore power forward Logan Webb contributed seven points and seven caroms.The Skyhawks upset Poca 53-52 on the Dots' home floor in the regional co-finals after losing in the sectional tournament to reach states."I know that the boys wanted to win it for our senior,'' Cabell said of Dolan. "You could just see it in all their eyes. I'm so proud of these guys. They gave it their all. They have all year. We've asked them to be tough, play with fire, play with pride and all of them did.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.