RACHEL — North Marion outscored East Fairmont 20-8 in the fourth quarter for a come-from-behind, 68-60 victory Tuesday night inside North Marion High School.
The Huskies were led by forward Ryan Gillespie’s 20 points.
North Marion turned up the heat defensively and made great strides from the team’s season opening loss to Trinity last week.
The Huskies limited the Bees to just 32 percent from the field in the win.
“We stress defense to them,” North Marion coach Chris Freeman said after the team’s first victory of the season. “We have to defend a rebound. We took care of the ball. Being able to get stops is big.”
NMHS outbounded East, 32-26 in the cross-county tilt.
East Fairmont led after the first three quarters including owning a four-point advantage at halftime, but were unable to break out of a tailspin in the final eight minutes.
“North made plays down the stretch that we did not,” East Fairmont coach Tyrone Asterino said. “Plays that we made in the first three quarters, we didn’t make late in the game. We turned the ball over, which we didn’t need.”
East missed its first five shots from the field to start the game, but led 8-4 after a 3-pointer by Brandon Akers. And despite shooting just 5-of-16 in the first quarter, senior point guard Brennon Vincent buried a buzzer-beater from just inside half court to give the Bees a 16-14 lead.
In the second quarter, the Bees began to stretch their leading, scoring 11 of the first 15 points.
EFHS led 33-29 at the break.
In the second half, North Marion’s Curtlin Jones and Brandon Dixon both sank 3s to quickly tie the game just a minute into the third. The teams would trade buckets for most of the quarter until East’s Akers converted on a three-point play to give the Bees a 49-44 lead.
Husky guard Micah Parrish’s runner with seven seconds left in the third cut the East lead to 52-48 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter was a wild affair that saw the young Huskies rise to the occasion on their home floor.
Senior Will Coulson canned two quick fourth quarter 3-point shots Gillespie’s presence dow low can North Marion a 58-56 lead with four minutes to play.
“I think we wore them down in the fourth quarter,” Freeman said. “It helps to be able to rotate in eight, nine guys and getting pressure on them.”
East Fairmont went ice cold on its offensive end and committed some timely turnovers.
After struggling at the free-throw line last week, the Huskies made 15-of-17 shots from the charity stripe that closed out the game for the victory.
“I thought our student section did a tremendous job getting loud and creative chaos when they had the ball in their hands,” Freeman said. “We want to make sure they continue to do that.”
With the win, the Huskies improved to 1-1 on the season while East fell to 0-1 after enduring a challenging road environment to start its season.
Coulson finished with 12 for the Huskies in the win while Parrish added 11.
The Bees were led by Myles Johnson’s 16 points, despite 10 of those coming from the line. Vincent and Slusser each added 12 points.
“Even in the first half when we had the lead I didn’t feel like we shot the ball as well as we are capable of,” Asterino said. “It wasn’t one individual, it was groups of people.”
The Fairmont Senior boys’ basketball team improved to 3-0 on the season with an 80-40 victory over Lewis County on Tuesday.
The Minutemen got off to a quick 10-4 lead before the Polar Bears outscored Lewis, 38-15 to close the first half.
Three players finished in double-figures for FSHS including Tavon Horton and Darhius Nunn’s 16 points and Jacob Casalinuova’s 12.
Lewis County was led by Ben Riley’s 14 points.
Email Joe Mitchin at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @JoeMitchinTWV.