The Times West Virginian

Sports

February 20, 2014

Improved Polar Bears flip the script on North Marion: PHOTOS

FAIRMONT — Fairmont Senior had plenty of question marks coming into the season after losing all five starters from last year’s state runner-up team.

Even coach David Retton admitted at the season’s outset that he wasn’t sure where his team would be at the start of the season. One thing he promised, however, was that the Polar Bears would be competitive come playoff time.

Wednesday night the Polar Bears proved their coach right.

After losing to North Marion 57-48 in the first game of the season, the Polar Bears flipped the script Wednesday in a 77-55 victory at Woody Williams Armory.

“This team has made as much progress as any team I’ve coached in 17 years at Fairmont Senior,” Retton said. “There was great effort and energy tonight. I’m really proud of how we performed and how we executed.”

The win, which was Fairmont Senior’s fifth in a row, should go a long way toward helping the team pick up a high seed in the sectional tournament — if not the number one seed — when coaches vote on rankings early next week. The Polar Bears (10-7) have now beaten East Fairmont twice and split with North Marion.

“It shows that we’re focused now and we have one goal as a team,” said junior forward Isaac Childers, who finished with 10 points. “We hope it means we’re the number one seed in the sectional.”

Junior guard Tavon Horton and sophomore guard Darhius Nunn joined Childers in double figures. They scored 24 points and 15 points, respectively.

Senior Chase Banker was the only Husky in double figures with 21 points.

While the game cleared up some of the uncertainty for Retton and the Polar Bears, it left North Marion coach Chris Freeman struggling to find answers.

“You’re in a big game. Big-time atmosphere. Chance for the number one seed in the section. And you’ve got five seniors who aren’t ready to step up and play,” Freeman said. “I don’t have an answer for that.”

The Huskies (8-9) dug themselves an early hole by coughing the ball up nine times in the first quarter. It contributed to easy points in transition and allowed the Polar Bears to take a 17-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

North Marion kept pace with Fairmont Senior over the next two and a half quarters. In the second, both teams scored 16 points and in the third quarter, the Polar Bears outscored the Huskies by just five points.

But the Huskies could never overcome the early 10-point deficit.

“I thought we played even with them besides (the turnovers),” Freeman said. “That’s the difference in the ballgame.”

The Huskies will look to turn things around Friday and Saturday when they host Philip Barbour and Elkins.

“We’ll go back, practice tomorrow and try to get better,” Freeman said. “Maybe we’ll see them again. Maybe we won’t.”

Fairmont Senior, on the other hand, will travel to Morgantown Saturday before closing out the season with home games against Lewis County, Philip Barbour and Preston and an away game at Grafton.

“I dont think you can ever have enough confidence or too much of it. Right now our guys are a confident group,” Retton said. “They believe in what we’re doing. They believe in what their teammates are doing. And they believe in themselves individually.”

Email Mike DeFabo at timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.

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