VANDALIA — Fairborn coach Nathan Chivington challenged his players to dominate the rebound charts, play solid defense and let the offense come to them. His Skyhawks met that challenge, during Friday night’s Division I sectional first round game against Piqua.
Malik Jacobs’ game just got better as the game wore on. He scored seven of his game-high 22 points in the first half and Fairborn rolled to a convincing 63-39 win at the Vandalia Butler Student Activities Center.
Jordan Pumroy and Jordan Michael had the hot hand early on for Fairborn, with each scoring 10 points in the first half. And Chivington said Fairborn hauled in more rebounds than the Indians.
“We definitely took care of things on the board. I don’t think we gave up any offensive rebounds in the first half. I didn’t get a chance to see the numbers in the first half, but I know that we beat them on the boards by 16. That was one of our keys. We needed to make sure that we worked hard on the glass and would keep them off it.
“Defensively, there was a stretch where transition after transition nobody was scoring on both ends, but we didn’t allow the frustrations of what was happening on offense to affect how we were playing defensively.”
The two teams traded buckets early on, then Michael hit the back end of two tries at the free-throw line to put the Skyhawks up for good, 7-6, midway through the first quarter.
By midway through the second period, Fairborn had doubled Piqua’s score.
“The difference in the game tonight was they won the rebounding battle,” Piqua coach Heath Butler said. “Jacobs and Michael are two tough kids to guard, and we knew they’d make their share. But when they miss, you’ve gotta get the rebound. We just didn’t do that tonight.”
Brandon Lilley, Ryan Profitt and Aaron Childers combined to score the other 12 points for Fairborn (16-7).
Jacobs said having other scoring threats on the Skyhawks’ team takes the pressure off of everybody.
“It is easy to play with Jordan. We’re both unselfish, so when we know that one of us is having a good night, we just feed him and make things happen,” Jacobs said. “We wanted to stop them on defense, because we knew the offense would come. And we wanted to concentrate on the boards, and that’s what we did. It was a good team effort for us tonight.”
Chivington said it’s been fun having his two scoring threats on the squad this year, because they enjoy helping the team more than they do themselves.
“I think both of them enjoy each other’s success. I don’t think that one’s grumbling about the other one doing well. They enjoy seeing each other do well. Those guys have enjoyed this winning streak that we put together at the end of the season. They’ve enjoyed not only the team’s success, but seeing underclassmen scoring late in the game. It’s been a great season,” he said.
Friday’s win was the first time the Skyhawks had held an opponent under 40 points this season.
Colton Bachman led Piqua (12-11) with a 15-point night, while speedy guard Storm Cook scored eight.
Fairborn, which has now won nine straight, will next play Beavercreek at 6 p.m., Feb. 26 at Vandalia Butler. The two teams met earlier this season with Beavercreek winning a narrow 72-70 battle in Fairborn just two days after Christmas. Chivington said his Skyhawks have matured as a team since that early season meeting.
“It’s going to be a battle down to the wire, but with our experiences, we hope that we’ll be on the other end this time,” he said.