The defending state champions continued their postseason quest Saturday afternoon.
Makayla Waterman had 16 points and 10 rebounds as the the Fairmont girls basketball team defeated Mount Notre Dame 54-49 in a rugged Division I district final at Harrison.
“They’re hungry,” coach Lacy Romine said of her Firebirds (23-2). “They know when to win, and they know what it takes to win. They thrive in this environment.”
This win didn’t come neatly wrapped with a bow on it. Waterman fouled out with 2:34 left, and the Cougars shaved a 15-point deficit to five twice in the last 48 seconds.
Fairmont was 5 of 15 from the line in the fourth quarter (9 of 22 overall), but was still standing at the end.
“We like to make things difficult sometimes with free throws and silly turnovers,” Romine said. “We could’ve crumbled and fell apart, but these kids are never going to quit. ”
Danie Shafer scored 14 points and Shea Morgan tossed in 12 for the Firebirds. Naomi Davenport’s 27 points and 10 boards powered the Cougars (17-7).
Fairmont played without senior center Kathryn Westbeld, who’s been sidelined throughout the tournament with an ankle injury. Romine said she’s day to day.
With Waterman out down the stretch Saturday, Shafer said the Firebirds didn’t panic.
“Everybody knew they had to step up even more,” the senior guard continued. “When we play together, I have a lot of confidence in our team. We just have to keep calm and stay under control.”
MND shot just 30.2 percent from the field. Cougars coach Scott Rogers said his crew missed too many layups.
“Our girls just needed to make a few more shots,” he said. “That’s usually what big games come down to.”
Fairmont will face top-ranked Princeton in a 6:15 p.m. regional semifinal on Wednesday at Wright State University. The Firebirds beat the Vikings 63-54 on Dec. 9.
Centerville 64, Mother of Mercy 50: Shannon Coffee, a 6-foot-5 junior, dominated the paint with 24 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks for the Elks (23-3).
Centerville shot just 32.9 percent from the floor, but crushed the Bobcats on the boards by a 49-28 margin (27-6 on the offensive glass).
“We didn’t play great. That’s kudos to their defense,” Elks coach Adam Priefer said. “We missed 30 shots in the paint. That’s not usual for us.”
Centerville forged a 36-18 halftime lead, then had to fight off Mercy (16-8). The Bobcats got as close as 49-44 with 7:01 left before the Elks responded with a game-clinching 11-2 run.
Bethany Krause had 12 points, five rebounds and six assists for the Elks, who will face Lakota West in an 8 p.m. regional semifinal at WSU on Wednesday.
Shannon Reilly also marked 11 points for CHS. Maggie Schutter added 13 boards and six assists.
Lakota West 54, Springboro 34: The Panthers struggled with West’s pressure right out of the gate, falling behind 13-0 in the first four-plus minutes.
Kelly Wurth suffered an early ankle injury, but came back to lead Springboro (20-6) with 12 points. Courtney Hillis chipped in 10.
The Panthers were down 17-11 at the first stop, then watched the Firebirds (21-5) go on a 10-1 run.
“I think they did a good job of going high/low and transitioning on us, and they pressure you into mistakes,” Springboro coach Tom Benjamin said. “I think they could win state.”
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