Fairmont defeated Wayne 51-43 in a boys high school basketball D-I sectional final at Centerville on Monday, March 4, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Fairmont senior delivers: “I wanted to play for my friend that I lost”

“I just wanted to play as hard as I could for my team,” the Fairmont senior said, blinking back tears. “I wanted to play for my friend that I lost.”

The Fairmont student section was adorned in yellow T-shirts that read FIREBIRD STRONG on the front. To contact a trained counselor at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call its hotline number at 800-273-TALK (8255). Fairmont defeated Wayne 51-43 in a boys high school basketball D-I sectional final at Centerville on Monday, March 4, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Rocked by the death of a former teammate just hours before, Fairmont posted the most challenging win in its boys basketball program history, overcoming a flood of emotions to defeat Wayne 51-43 in a delayed Division I boys high school basketball sectional final at Centerville on Monday night.

»» BOYS HOOP: Sectional, district final schedule

»» GIRLS HOOP: Regional schedule

Much of the capacity crowd – students and spectators from both schools – was adorned in yellow T-shirts with “FIREBIRD STRONG” emblazoned across the front and perched on top of the Fairmont logo. That was a tribute to suicide prevention and the Fairmont student, whose attempted suicide on Saturday became a fatal on Monday afternoon.

Fairmont junior Paul Kramer (left), senior Benjamin McManus and sophomore Haley Ford celebrate with FIREBIRD STRONG T-shirts and buttons. Fairmont defeated Wayne 51-43 in a boys high school basketball D-I sectional final at Centerville on Monday, March 4, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Chief Screen Printing & Production in Kettering supplied the T-shirts and Fairmont Career Technology Center students made similar buttons on the school’s button press machine on Monday. They were everywhere at the game, including neatly tied yellow ribbons.

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The Dayton Daily News is not naming the student.

“It’s been a difficult couple of days with our community and especially (Monday) with our students,” Fairmont athletic director Chris Weaver said. “It came across the announcements (Monday) at 1:15 and you can imagine what that does to kids inside a school building. We had tremendous support from counselors from Centerville and Beavercreek and Oakwood who were in the building (Monday) to help support us.”

DaShawn Brown of Fairmont (left) confronts Brian Hill (with ball) of Wayne. Fairmont defeated Wayne 51-43 in a boys high school basketball D-I sectional final at Centerville on Monday, March 4, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

The game originally was scheduled to be played last Saturday. The Southwest District postponed it following Fairmont’s request, which was seconded by Wayne’s administration.

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Fairmont (17-8) will take a three-game win streak into one of four D-I district finals and is matched against Greater Miami Conference champion Lakota East (19-5) at 7 p.m. Saturday at the University of Dayton Arena.

Bochenek, a 6-foot-4 workhorse for the Firebirds who’s effective around the basket and has good long-range touch, tallied a game-high 24 points. He hit three 3-pointers and had nine points in the fourth quarter, often answering as Wayne closed.

Fairmont’s Ryan Hall (0) confronts Jordan Long of Wayne (with ball). Fairmont defeated Wayne 51-43 in a boys high school basketball D-I sectional final at Centerville on Monday, March 4, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Fairmont sub Caleb Hall was the Firebirds’ next highest scorer with seven points. Leading scorer Ryan Hall had just six points and one field goal and starting guard Andre O’Daniel didn’t return after a midgame knee injury.

»» GIRLS HOOP: Carroll, Franklin, Valley View sweep

»» RELATED: All-Southwestern District teams

None of that came into play as Fairmont raced to a 29-11 halftime lead to the relief of coach Blair Albright.

“I wasn’t sure if it was going to be insurmountable or if we were going to be OK,” he said. “Our guys rose to the occasion and I’m just so proud of them for giving our community something to cheer about in a time that’s been really difficult.”

Kellan Bochenek (2) led Fairmont with 24 points. Fairmont defeated Wayne 51-43 in a boys high school basketball D-I sectional final at Centerville on Monday, March 4, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Wayne (14-10) closed to within three with 2:15 left after consecutive Ronnie Hampton buckets. Fairmont answered with Anthony Johnson’s only field goal and five consecutive free throws, including four by Bochenek.

»» GIRLS HOOP: All-Southwest District teams

»» BOYS HOOP: All-Southwest District teams

Hampton led Wayne with 22 points and Rashad McKee added 11 in their final game was Warriors.

The teams split during the regular season, Wayne winning by 20 at home.

Fairmont celebrates, including Ryan Hall (0) and Kellan Bochenek. Fairmont defeated Wayne 51-43 in a boys high school basketball D-I sectional final at Centerville on Monday, March 4, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

After the game, hugs were long and meaningful among Fairmont players and students, who spilled onto the floor to celebrate. Fairmont coaches and students went overdrive on Twitter with #ketteringstrong salutes to suicide prevention and a nod to Fairmont’s success. Albright posted a photo of a card given to him and signed by Wayne coaches, players and cheerleaders.

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»» BOYS HOOP: Thurgood Marshall advances in D-II 

Bochenek was relentless against Wayne and it showed. He’ll celebrate his birthday on Tuesday with six new stitches next to his nose to go with a D-I sectional title.

Fairmont celebrates, including Ryan Hall (0) and Kellan Bochenek. Fairmont defeated Wayne 51-43 in a boys high school basketball D-I sectional final at Centerville on Monday, March 4, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

“The locker room was different, but once we stepped on the floor we were ready to play and win,” he said, gaze fixed downward. “I just wanted to do this for the community and my team.”

HOW TO GET HELP: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat online with a trained professional at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat

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»» BOYS HOOP: Three great shots at Mr. Basketball

»» BOYS HOOP: Trotwood-Madison D-II state poll champ

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»» GIRLS HOOP: Final state polls

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