By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
With the remnants of a winter storm left on the ground, it seemed as if the Fairmont Senior Polar Bears were in their natural element as they toppled No. 5 Westside, 88-83, Saturday afternoon at the Woody Williams Armory.
With career-highs from three of its guards, Fairmont Senior (8-7) was able to overcome Westside’s (12-5) up-tempo style of play late in the third quarter, taking a double-digit lead early in the game’s final quarter.
“It was a team performance,” Fairmont Senior coach David Retton said of the victory. “We had 11 kids get the job done for us at key points in the game whether it was Marquise (Drake) defensively or (Brennan) Moorehead and what he did for us offensively or a boxout by Joe Harold or Ben Taylor making the right pass. Just all of our guys did a tremendous job coming off the bench and contributing, giving key plays at key times.”
After trailing 52-43 midway through the third quarter due to an 11-4 run by the Renegades, the Polar Bears went on a 13-0 run of their own to take a 56-52 lead. Despite closing the quarter on an 8-4 run, Westside still trailed by seven going into the final eight minutes.
“We've just got to eliminate these spurts we go on. I think we had an eight-point lead there in the third and then we were down eight at one point,” Westside coach Nick Cook said of the momentum shift. “We've got to quit taking naps during these games and letting these teams go on these runs and do these things to us.”
The start of the fourth quarter brought two plays that were possibly even bigger than the big run the Polar Bears went on in the third. Harold made back-to-back hustle plays to steal the ball and push it ahead to a teammate for the score, the first coming on a loose ball that changed hands three different times before Harold corralled it.
“They were huge plays,” Retton said.
From there, Fairmont Senior took a quick 13-point lead, one from which the Renegades would never recover from.
For the Polar Bears, Tavon Horton, Darhius Nunn and Brennan Moorehead all had career nights with 28, 24 and 14 points, respectively, and Ike Childers joined them in double digits with 12. Horton and Nunn also combined for seven steals, while Nunn had four assists.
“We were just trying to play in the game like we do in practice, and we finally put points up on the board,” Nunn, a sophomore guard, said. “We just wanted to take our time, not play too fast and not play too slow. We didn't want to turn the ball over because we knew they were a pretty good team.”
The stat of the night, though, may have been that Nunn and Moorehead shot a collective 16-of-20 from the floor.
Moorehead, a freshman guard, was just brought up recently. When the statement, “I haven’t heard much about him,” was made to coach Retton, his response was, “Yeah, me either,” with a smile.
“He read the defense and he plays confident. That's what I see with him; and it’s evident. Anyone can see it,” Retton went on to say about one of the newest additions to his squad. “He plays with a lot of confidence and a lot of poise on the floor.”
Of his first big outing on varsity, Moorehead said, “I just went out and did what we do in practice and played my game.”
As for Westside, big man Justin Cogar finished with a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds while adding two blocks. After scoring 13 points in the first half, though, Cogar was held scoreless in the third quarter.
“Of course their adjustment at halftime was going to be to do something with him,” Cook said of the lack of production from his big man in the second half. “We just kind of got into a transition-type game there in the third quarter going up and down the floor, and we didn’t do a good job of getting the ball into him. And at the same time, he’s got to get in there and work for the ball.”
Justin Kenneda led the way with 22 points as four Renegade players reached double figures.
Fairmont Senior doesn’t have too long to celebrate the win as it now looks ahead to Lincoln on Monday.
Of the quick turnaround, Retton said, “Mentally, we can enjoy the game tonight, but we’ve got a lot of basketball left to play.”
Email Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.