It took a while, but Fairmont’s girls basketball team now resembles what had been envisioned for the Firebirds.
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Fairmont, staggering after a 3-4 start against a high-end schedule and stuck in break-in mode under new coach Jeremey Finn, flexed its potential might against visiting Tippecanoe in a matchup of two of the area’s best high school programs on Saturday at Trent Arena. An impressive 55-26 blowout victory assured all is right with Fairmont girls basketball.
“We have definitely had so much adversity,” said standout junior center Maddy Westbeld, who tallied a game-high 17 points. “We started slow but we’ve gelled together and we’re playing really well now.”
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It was the third straight win by Fairmont (6-4) and followed other impressive defeats of Mason and Beavercreek. Fairmont senior Mali Morgan-Elliott added 15 points and Makira Webster, a junior guard, hit a trio of 3-pointers and was good for 13 points.
“We know what we have,” said Finn, who landed the position when Kyle Boze was forced to resign last summer because of health reasons without ever coaching a game.
“It’s just a matter of executing and doing what we do in practice. That’s the part we’re starting to figure out. If we defend like we have been, we’re going to be OK.”
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Tipp (7-2) trailed by 10 after the first quarter and never solved Fairmont’s smothering zone defense. Sophomore Ashleigh Mader led the Red Devils with eight points and Mackenzie Smith tallied six.
The setback snapped Tipp’s five-game win streak. Last season Tipp defeated Fairmont 61-55 in Game 2.
“We’re not going to run into anybody the rest of the (season) that’s this tall,” Tipp coach Andy Holderman said. “It was a great learning experience. You play the schedule that you play to get yourself prepared (for the postseason) and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
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Tipp has been a regular Division II regional qualifier the past several seasons and will be favored to do so again, despite significant senior turnover from last season’s 25-3 team. Fairmont was one of three Greater Western Ohio Conference teams that was knocked out in a D-I district final last season.
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