By Nick Cammuso
For the Times West Virginian
Instead of focusing on the limitations of youth, Fairmont Senior girls’ basketball coach Corey Hines embraces them.
Too young to be in the mix for a Big 10 and sectional title? Not these Polar Bears. Too young to win a state playoff game? Nope, not after Thursday night, as fifth-seeded Fairmont Senior dominated the second half on its way to a 72-56 win over No. 4 Clay County in the Class AA quarterfinals at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum.
“Our biggest asset is youth,” Hines said.
And now, the Polar Bears’ youth will be pitted against the experience of defending state champ Westside at 7:15 tonight in the semifinals. Westside (24-1) rolled past PikeView. 68-41, on Thursday. No. 2 Bridgeport and No. 3 Nicholas County play on the other side of the bracket at 11:15 this morning.
While the game ended a Fairmont Senior (19-6) romp, things were far from smooth sailing to start.
Whether it was state tournament jitters — the Polar Bears, after all, are back in Charleston for the first time since 2006 — or an unusually late 9 p.m. game start, it took a long time for either team to get in sync.
In the first half, both were playing at times as if the ball were covered in cooking oil. There were loose balls taken away, errant passes thrown about and often a miscue by one squad was quickly met with another on the other end of the floor.
“We call it a thing of beauty,” Hines said. “It might have looked sloppy to everybody else, but to us it looked great. You come out of that mess, you’re feeling pretty good about yourself.”
All told, the teams totaled an astounding 40 first-half turnovers, 21 by Clay County (18-7). For the game, they combined for 59 (Fairmont Senior 32, Clay 27).