GWOC boys: Big second-half rally propels Centerville over Fairmont

Spent and trailing by 14 points at halftime, Centerville’s streaking boys high school basketball team had met its match at Fairmont on Friday night. All the momentum from a nine-game win streak? Gone. It’s energy level? Zapped.

“We were starting from scratch,” shrugged Elks coach Brook Cupps.

Sure enough, Centerville pulled the ultimate second-half do-over. Jason Sneed hit the go-ahead basket, Mo Njie blocked a shot and Ryan Marchal added a free throw – all in the final 42.6 seconds – as Centerville overtook Fairmont in the final seconds for a stunning 46-44 win before a packed crowd at Trent Arena.

“We showed (Cupps) that we’re willing to compete and we’re here to fight through everything, no matter what the score is,” said Njie.

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That completed the Elks’ regular-season sweep of the Firebirds, who lost by three at Centerville way back in early December. And it might not be the last time these Greater Western Ohio Conference National East rivals play.

They both should be among the high-end seeds in Sunday’s Division I coaches meeting for the upcoming sectional.

Matt Pearce led the Elks with 11 points and Njie, Centerville’s 6-foot-9 junior center, added 10, including a slam midway through the final quarter that drew the Elks even at 41-all.

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Sneed’s floater in the lane was the winning bucket with 16 ticks left. Fairmont’s Kellan Bochenek hit a 3-pointer to put the Firebirds ahead, but the basket was waived off after Fairmont was called for a foul near the basket. Njie swatted a Fairmont shot and Marchal hit a free throw in the final four seconds to account for the final margin.

Fairmont’s Jesse Reliford hit five 3-pointers and scored a season-high 17 points – all in the first half – to account for much of the Firebirds’ lead at the break. Bochenek added 12 points and Ryan Hall 10.

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Centerville hasn’t lost since falling to 4-5 after a blowout defeat at defending D-I state champ and unbeaten Cincinnati Moeller to start the new year.

“Our guys showed me something I wasn’t sure we had, the fight to come back in the second half,” Cupps said. “We don’t have any grand illusions. We know we have to play and compete and if we don’t do those things, we’ll get beat bad. I love this. That’s how it’s supposed to be and our guys have bought into that and believe in it.”

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It was the 10th straight win for Centerville (14-5, 8-2), which remains a half-game behind GWOC National East leaders Springfield (12-8, 9-2) and Wayne (12-8, 9-2) with two divisional games left, including against visiting Wayne next Friday. Fairmont (14-6, 5-5) hosts Springfield on Tuesday and can do no better than provide a spoiler role in the divisional title race.

“In almost every loss we’ve blown a lead late,” Fairmont coach Blair Albright said. “It’s been our Achilles’ heel all year. We knew this was going to be a high-level, sectional or district final type of game. That’s where we hope to be. It’s just frustrating it didn’t go our way.”

It also was the 300th career win for Centerville coach Brook Cupps, in his seventh season with the Elks after leaving Graham. Earlier in the week Centerville girls coach Adam Priefer won his 300th career game.

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Stivers 74, Dunbar 56: Allen Lattimore had 29 points and the Tigers secured a share of the Dayton City League title for the first time since 1953. Trevon Ellis added 10 points with 13 rebounds for Stivers, which improved to 15-3 overall and 8-1 in conference play.

Chaminade Julienne 65, Fenwick 62 OT: Milton Gage had 21 points to help top-ranked CJ (D-II) end a two-game losing skid and remain unbeaten in the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North (17-3, 9-0). The host Eagles swept the series, taking both games in OT.

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Franklin 72, Brookville 68 OT: The host Wildcats (14-6, 7-4) shot back into Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern contention with their fourth straight win. Brookville (16-3, 8-3) owns a one-game lead over Franklin, Monroe and Oakwood, and will play its final divisional game at Valley View next Friday. Jacob Gudorf scored 24 points to lead the Blue Devils.

Trotwood-Madison 113, Xenia 89: Amari Davis scored 33 points and Carl Blanton 26 as the visiting Rams (17-2, 13-0) hit triple digits for a fourth straight game. Samari Curtis had 28 points to lead Xenia (11-9, 7-5).

Butler 59, Troy 55: Quentin Glover led the way with 21 points and Bryant Johnson added 12 to help Butler (18-2) dodge an upset. Tre'Vone Archie paced Troy with 17 points and Shaedon Olden added 16.

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Twin Valley South 80, Bradford 22: Willie Bowman had 22 points to help TVS (16-2, 9-1) clinch a tie for the Cross County Conference title with one game remaining.

Waynesville girls 64, Valley View 59: Rachel Murray hit four 3-pointers and scored 24 points and Marcella Sizer added 18 points and 12 rebounds as the Spartans withstood a strong SWBL crossover challenge at Valley View on Thursday. Waynesville (20-0) can complete an unbeaten regular season by beating SWBL and Southwestern Division champ Franklin on Saturday.

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