Fairmont’s Jack Hendricks has averaged 25 points in two games, including a career-high 28 in an 87-70 defeat of Bethel last weekend. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Early success for unlikely GWOC boys trio

Three unlikely boys high school basketball teams have shown early signs of being Greater Western Ohio Conference divisional contenders: Beavercreek (3-0), Vandalia-Butler (3-0) and Fairmont (1-1).

Beavercreek landed the shot heard round the GWOC with 70-69 overtime defeat of visiting Springfield last Friday. Butler is allowing a stingy 36.7 points per game and Fairmont pushed Wayne to the brink before falling 65-57, then rolling Bethel 87-70.

Beavercreek, 4-19 last season, had lost to Springfield five times over the previous two seasons and had a combined 10 wins in Hess’ two seasons as the Beavers’ coach.

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“Our two words are trust and believe; trust in each other and believe in each other,” said Beavercreek coach Mark Hess, who was especially happy for returning starters Cedric Baldwin, a 6-3 senior, and 6-6 junior Jon Alessandro.

“They haven’t had a lot of success. For them to experience that, that’s what I’m happy for. I told them it proved a lot to me of what we have in this locker room, the mental and physical toughness to endure that.”

Butler is in its second season with head coach Dylan “DJ” Wyrick, previously an administrative assistant for former Wright State men’s basketball coach Billy Donlon. The Aviators haven’t had a winning season since 2010-11. Butler, also 4-19 last season, has just six combined wins for its previous two teams.

Fairmont coach Blair Albright has had just one winning season during his tenure, 19-5 in 2014-15. Firebirds senior Kamron Drollet (14.0 points), junior Cade Morgan and junior Dylan Crutchfield all are returning starters. Fairmont lost twice to Wayne last season by a combined 60 points.

“Obviously, I was real proud in the way our guys competed,” Albright said. “We didn’t back down from that at all.”

Wayne (2-0) and Springfield (1-1), both members of the GWOC National East, are the area’s top Division I programs. But Beavercreek and Fairmont appear to be closing that gap.

“We belong to be here,” said Hess, whose Beavers are at Wayne on Tuesday. “Wayne is one of the best programs in the state. We’re coming in with some confidence and we’re going to prove that we belong where we’re at. That’s our goal.”

Northmont (2-0) also has posted impressive defeats of Greenville and Lebanon.

• Fairlawn senior Nathan Lessing needs just 42 points to set a school career scoring record and is closing on Tom Brandiwie’s most career points in the history of Shelby County boys basketball, according to former Fairlawn AD John Wolfinger.

Lessing, a 6-2 senior, is just 42 points shy of surpassing Andy Francis’ school career scoring total of 1,657 points. He also trails Brandiwie (Fort Loramie) by just 219 points as the county’s all-time leading scorer.

Lessing is averaging 30.3 points through three games after averaging 28.3 last season. Fairlawn (3-0) is at Shelby County League rival Fort Loramie (3-0) on Tuesday and hosts Houston (0-3) on Friday.

• An Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield rep will make a presentation of $5,000 to Carroll during halftime of Tuesday’s boys basketball game against visiting Urbana. The payout is for Carroll’s participation in Anthem’s “Cheer Your Heart Out” program.

Patriots students were No. 1 among schools in southern Ohio in Twitter and Instagram tweets, posts, pictures and videos, according to Anthem.

“We enjoyed promoting it to our community and are pleased to be the recipients of the very generous award,” Carroll athletic director Scott Molfenter said in a statement.

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