Lakota East defeated Fairmont 50-36 in a boys high school basketball D-I district final at UD Arena on Saturday, March 9, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Boys tourney: Fairmont’s emotional run ends with district final loss

Fairmont, shaken by the recent death of a former teammate, took on the hope of a grieving school community and played for a boys high school basketball district Division I district championship at the University of Dayton Arena, one of four such games.

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The nightmare circumstances - yet in other ways emotionally charged postseason run - ended with a 50-36 setback to superior Lakota East.

Ryan Hall had 10 points and 4 assists for Fairmont. Lakota East defeated Fairmont 50-36 in a boys high school basketball D-I district final at UD Arena on Saturday, March 9, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Just 24 hours before, Fairmont students, former teammates, school administrators, teachers and many more attended a final public showing for the deceased Fairmont student, who died after attempting suicide.

The Dayton Daily News is not naming the deceased student.

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“It’s been amazing,” reflected Fairmont senior leader Ryan Hall. “It’s not so much of a school anymore, it’s a whole family. Especially our team and coaches. It’s been a brotherhood. It’s more than basketball to us now.”

Of course it is. Basketball was the wrapping around a life lesson for anyone connected with the Silver, Blue and White. Fairmont coach Blair Albright said as much as the Firebirds huddled one final time deep in an arena locker room.

Kellan Bochenek led Fairmont with 15 points. Lakota East defeated Fairmont 50-36 in a boys high school basketball D-I district final at UD Arena on Saturday, March 9, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

“I told our guys to be disappointed about the game and be heartbroken about the other stuff,” Albright said. “You should never let an athletic contest or result break your heart. They found out there are much bigger things in life that are worthy of breaking your heart.

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“You can be disappointed about this result, but they’ll realize years from now that the bond they created through these last couple weeks is something they’ll carry forever.”

As they have all season, seniors Kellan Bochenek (15 points) and Hall (10) led Fairmont (17-9).

Chris Thompson (left) and Andre O’Daniel endure the final seconds. Lakota East defeated Fairmont 50-36 in a boys high school basketball D-I district final at UD Arena on Saturday, March 9, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

East (20-5), out of the Greater Miami Conference, moves on to play defending D-I state champ Cincinnati Moeller (25-0) in a D-I regional semifinal at Xavier University’s Cintas Center at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday. Centerville (21-5) will play Springfield (17-9) at 8 p.m.

»» RELATED: Girls, boys hoop results/pairings

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Already reeling on the court, Fairmont entered the postseason lugging a three-game losing skid after Greater Western Ohio Conference National East losses to Centerville, Springfield and Beavercreek. Then playoff magic gripped the Firebirds.

Franklin fell first, then Butler, which owned a 20-2 regular season. Wayne was next in a delayed district semifinal following the attempted suicide. Regrouped, Fairmont responded with an emotional 51-43 win.

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»» BOYS HOOP: Alter can’t hold on to big halftime lead

There would be no more playoff magic remaining for East. Although Fairmont trailed by just three at halftime, the Firebirds struggled throughout and had no consistent answer for the Thunderhawks.

Fairmont’s fate had played out, the Firebirds just didn’t know it.

It was an emotional end of the season for many reasons to Fairmont senior leaders Kellan Bochenek (left) and Ryan Hall. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

“I did have some fear if at some point we would hit an emotional wall,” Albright said. “I don’t know if that’s what happened. What I do know for sure is we got out-played. To be honest, I think they’re just emotionally spent, which is understandable.”

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»» BOYS HOOP: MAC rivals in D-IV district final

»» SWBL: Preble Shawnee leaving for new conference

»» BOYS HOOP: Emotional win for Fairmont

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»» RELATED: All-Southwestern District teams

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»» BOYS HOOP: Fairmont finds new life in postseason

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