Fairmont scores big win to wrap up 20th Flyin’ To The Hoop

KETTERING — After Monday’s finale of the 20th Beacon Orthopaedics Flyin’ To The Hoop, some Fairmont players and head coach Kenny Molz lingered on the side of the court.

They had boxed pizza to eat on the way home. But when you earn a win like the Firebirds needed Monday night, well, what’s the rush. The pizza will keep. But the feeling of an important victory is something to share as long as you can.

The Firebirds suffered two recent Greater Western Ohio Conference losses, including one in overtime to Northmont, that put them in overcoming-adversity mode. And leading scorer Aden Marrero missed his second game and won’t play again this season because of an eligibility issue, according the Molz. Marrero was still on the bench supporting the team and helping in any way possible, Molz said.

But when the second quarter happened against Lakota West, the Firebirds felt whole again. They outscored West 22-6, sparked by a run of four straight 3-pointers, and rolled to a 57-43 victory.

“It just boosts our confidence a lot,” said senior guard Jamison Rountree, who scored a game-high 16 points. “After the last couple games, our confidence was a little low, especially after the last one in overtime, but this one it boosts our confidence.”

Tied 9-9 after one quarter with West (5-10), Fairmont (7-7) turned an 11-11 tie into a 23-13 lead on 3-pointers by Eli Sherwood, Evan Gentile, Tyler Gentile and Brock Baker.

“I feel like on defense, we really stalled them out so they felt dead and really didn’t want to play anymore,” Rountree said of the second quarter. “So everything opened up for us on offense.”

The Firebirds led 31-15 at halftime and 47-28 after three quarters. They shot 59.4%, including 7 of 13 3-pointers as they moved the ball well and found a rhythm.

“What I think everyone feels really good about is that we did it within what we do, and it wasn’t just like we were taking bad shots and they were just going in and we got that lead,” Molz said. “We worked and did things within what Fairmont basketball stands for and what we practice.”

This season is much different than last when the Firebirds won their second district title and first since 1995 and finished 22-4. Gone from that team are leading scorers Anthony Johnson and Dasan Doucet, both playing in college. Molz is playing a mixture of seniors and sophomores, and he liked the maturity he saw Monday.

“It was a big step forward for us, especially with our younger guys really understanding and buying into what our culture is, what our values are, what our identity is,” Molz said. “We really stress communication, our bench being active and vocal and being dialed in so when guys get in there there’s no drop off.”

Rountree came in averaging 7.9 points, but he has scored in double figures in four of the past six games, including 17 in a two-point win over Oakwood.

“Jameson has been really good for us,” Molz said. “We always talk about potential, and I always hate that word because that means you’re not good yet. He’s starting to live up to some of those things that everybody sees in him on a consistent basis.”

Sherwood finished with 11 points.

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