By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian
Forcing turnovers was the key to Fairmont Senior’s 71-35 victory over Oak Glen Tuesday in the first round of the sectional tournament.
Fairmont Senior coach David Retton credited the Polar Bear’s win to defense.
After being up by three going into the second quarter, the Polar Bears started to take advantage of their aggressive full-court press and began capitalizing on Oak Glen’s turnovers.
“We were able to get some turnovers,” Retton said. “We really did a good job of finding open guys throughout the course of the game.”
In the second quarter the Polar Bears outscored the Golden Bears, 26-7, thanks to six 3-pointers from four different players including two from Isaac Childers and Jacob Casalinuova and one apiece from Ben Taylor and Brennan Moorehead.
That gave Fairmont Senior a 40-18 lead going into halftime. They would continue to play tough defense in the second half even with a slow start in the third quarter with the Golden Bears fighting back.
Three and a half minutes into the third, Retton called a timeout after Oak Glen went on a 10-3 run. In the timeout, Retton told his team to simply bend their knees and play defense.
Out of that timeout, the Polar Bears went on a 14-2 run.
“We got into a defensive rhythm where our knees were bent and we were able to get to the ball,” Retton said. “That was the difference, our defense was really good tonight.”
The Polar Bears’ calm but aggressive play against Oak Glen is something that Retton has seen transform over the season.
“In the early part of the season, we’d get frustrated when shots didn’t fall or when we would force things,” he said. “Tonight, there was none of that. We made plays that were there and took what the defense gave us and stayed true to what we wanted to do.”
With the win, Fairmont Senior advances to the sectional championship Friday against East Fairmont, who defeated North Marion, 55-53, Tuesday. Retton said going into Friday’s game with the win against Oak Glen helps bring confidence.
“Success breeds success,” he said. “Confidence is big, momentum is big but we need to take care of two days of practice and Friday will be here soon enough.”
The championship game is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Woody Williams Armory.
Retton said Friday’s matchup with the Bees will be a tough game because of the rivally behind it.
Darhius Nunn lead Fairmont Senior on the night with 14 points, followed by Tavon Horton with 11 and Casalinvova with 9.
Leading Oak Glen was Bub Haddox with 10 points.
The Polar Bears advance their record to 13-9 while the Golden Bears’ final record stands at 4-20.
Email Emily Gallagher at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.