Fairmont wins girls D-I championship

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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The Fairmont High School girls basketball are state champions! Watch this video to see how they did it!

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Makayla Waterman was back from knee surgery, but her game was still hurting.

“I’ve been struggling all season,” said Fairmont’s junior frontliner. “My teammates helped me prove to everybody that I could really come back.”

Waterman picked the perfect time for her breakout effort, putting up a season-high 24 points in leading Fairmont to a 52-48 defeat of nemesis Twinsburg to win the girls high school basketball Division I state championship Saturday at the Schottenstein Center.

It was the third-straight year that the teams had met in the state final, a record for two teams. Twinsburg won the first two.

Fairmont becomes the first area D-I girls state champ since Chaminade Julienne in 2005.

It was a given that Fairmont needed as near to a perfect game as possible to finally overcome Twinsburg. They did, and received bonus points, too.

Alona Skipper, the designated 3-point launcher, was benched most of the second half of Friday’s semifinal defeat of Toledo Notre Dame. This time she hit two 3-pointers in the first quarter and totaled 10 points. That forced Twinsburg to loosen its inside defensive pressure.

That allowed room for Kathryn Westbeld to work. She responded with 13 points, 12 rebounds.

Not exactly known for her shut-down defense, Skipper made the play of her career when she slapped an inbounds pass off a Twinsburg player and Fairmont regained possession with :07.9 left.

Senior Chelsea Welch was tapped to guard Ms. Basketball Ashley Morrissette. Morrissette led the Tigers with 27 points, including a 15-point fourth quarter that featured three treys. But she was scoreless in the third quarter when Fairmont asserted itself.

But the difference-maker was Waterman. She matched her season high of 19 points midway through the third quarter. With Twinsburg forced to repeatedly foul her, Waterman buried 10 of 11 free throws.

It was as if that balky left knee brace for once wasn’t a factor in her game. Good thing for the Firebirds.

“I was ready,” Waterman said. “My mindset was to prove that I was ready.”

It was the fourth-straight season that Fairmont (27-1) advanced to the final four. This is its first title. It was the only loss for Twinsburg (29-1).

“Sometimes things take a long time to come true,” beamed Firebirds coach Tim Cogan. “I’m just happy as heck to bring this championship back to Kettering.”

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