By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
PLEASANT VALLEY —
Much like rivalry night on the college hardwood, the Busy Bee Band played as East Fairmont (3-7) and No. 9 Fairmont Senior (5-6) went onto the court Friday night as if it were Duke and North Carolina playing at East Fairmont High School.
Unfortunately for the Bees, the tune was to a 69-44 defeat at the hands of the Polar Bears.
The atmosphere of the game was everything you’d expect from a rivalry game with student sections jawing back and forth and hard fouls being called. Despite the score throughout the game, each possession was played with intensity from both squads, with both teams showing knowledge of the rivalry.
“These kids know. It’s East-West,” Fairmont Senior coach David Retton said. “If we have to talk about the game, they probably shouldn’t put the uniform on.”
But when it came down to the end, the Polar Bears were just too much for the Bees.
After Fairmont Senior capitalized by scoring 14 of its 35 first-half points off East Fairmont’s 14 first-half turnovers, the Polar Bears were able to put the Bees away for good.
For Retton and the Polar Bears, the win was much needed after a disheartening loss to No. 6 Bridgeport earlier in the week.
“(The win) was huge. It was a total debacle at Bridgeport. We had maybe two offensive possessions that were good all night,” Retton said. “We really had a good practice yesterday with intensity, and tonight we put together a full game.”
Eleven Polar Bears, led by Tavon Horton’s 24-point night, scored at least one point during the game. Darhius Nunn joined Horton in double figures with 10.
The two teams kept close in the opening quarter, but Fairmont Senior quickly took a 14-8 first-quarter lead and turned it into a 26-8 advantage. The Bees, on the other hand, would only score 12 points in the first half.
“Basketball is a game of runs, and they put a hell of a run on us,” East Fairmont coach Tyrone Asterino said after the game. “They got out in transition hitting some shots and some easy baskets. They put a run on us and we didn’t run back. They’re good enough that if you don’t make that push back, they can bury you pretty quick.”
The burrying that Asterino talked about came in the form of transition buckets brought upon by Fairmont Senior’s stingy defense.
In all, Fairmont Senior’s squad scored 37 of its 69 points off turnovers, forcing the Bees to cough the ball up 21 times.
East Fairmont, led by Nick Greely and Brennon Vincent with 13 and 11 points, respectively, never seemed to get into a rhythm after the opening quarter. But Asterino said at the season’s midpoint, the team still has a chance to make a strong finish.
“I’m not one that believes that winning breeds winning and losing breeds losing. We’ve got to try to figure out how to play more together,” Asterino said. “I think there’s pieces but the pieces of the puzzle aren’t fitting together. There’s teams that haven’t won very many regular-season games and come back and play at Charleston. We’re not going to quit.”
For Fairmont Senior, Retton wants to make sure he keeps his team on track and to keep progressing.
“Our practice sessions have been about getting us back to how we were a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “We thought, let’s get back to that place and let’s improve. We have another baseline that we’re at right now, and we think we can move forward and make some progress.”
East Fairmont is back in action Wednesday night when the Bees take on North Marion on the road, while Fairmont Senior will play at No. 1 Robert C. Byrd on the same night.
Email Matt Welch at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.