By John Bombatch
WEST CARROLLTON — Omar Inman got the Fairborn Skyhawks boys basketball team off to a good lead, and fellow senior Branden Lilley made sure the team ended with a win, Thursday night at West Carrollton High School.
Inman had the hot hand early on when he drained a trio of 3-pointers in the first 2 minutes and 9 seconds of the game. Those shots, combined with a Shaun Monroe bucket, gave Fairborn an 11-0 lead.
But a feisty West Carrollton bunch, behind a 10-point first half by the team’s scoring leader Veshawn Champion, actually rallied to take the lead (25-24) with a little more than 2 minutes left in the half. The Skyhawks’ Brandon Easterling and Jacob Webb combined to lead a 5-0 mini run to give Fairborn a 29-25 lead at the break.
A Champion steal and score pulled the Pirates within two points at 27-29 to start the second half, but Webb and Lilley combined for a 7-0 run to keep the Skyhawks in control.
Fairborn (2-3, 2-1 GWOC American South) outscored the Pirates 21-11 in the third quarter to charge out to a 50-36 lead, then Lilley, Monroe, Brockton Batie and Easterling combined to hit 16 of 18 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
“I thought our guys came ready to play, especially Omar (Inman) with those big shots to start out the game,” Fairborn coach Nathan Chivington said. “We never could get to the point where we could put those guys away. (West Carrollton) just kept on hanging in there. But we stepped to the free-throw line late in the game and we started knocking down our shots. That’s what you have to do when you’re up. You gotta be ready to do that, and our guys hit some crucial free throws to keep that lead where it needed to be.”
For the game, Fairborn free throw shooters hit 21 of their 24 tries.
Lilley hit 9 of his 10 free-throw tries in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 23 points, Webb finished with 10 points, Inman had his nine, and Batie finished with eight.
West Carrollton remains winless thus far this season, but Pirates coach Tony Clemens was encouraged by his team’s effort.
“I think we played hard. We played extremely hard, but I think with playing that hard we had some crucial turnovers, and we had some crucial missed assignments — a couple box outs led to some offensive rebounds, and those were situations where we really needed those rebounds. At the end, there were a couple situations where we just turned the ball over.
“If we make those layups, that puts pressure on Fairborn, and they tighten up a little bit. … But I think we played hard, I really do.”
Junior guard Jayden Evans and senior guard Champion both finished with 18 points, while Dariane Matthews was next with eight. The Pirates’ next game will be Saturday Dec. 17 in Xenia’s Benner Field House. The West Carrollton boys and girls teams will take on host Xenia’s boys and girls squads in a series of games at the former home of the Buccaneers.
Fairborn has a few days off to hone its skills. They return to action Tuesday, Dec. 20 when they’ll host Springfield at the Baker Memorial Fieldhouse.
“Playing on a Thursday was kind of unique for us, kinda different. But any time you can go on the road and get a ‘W,’ we can leave feeling pretty good,” Chivington said. “And Brandon Easterling showed why he has a number of Division I programs giving him a look. He was a physical presence in rebounding the ball tonight, and did a nice job when we needed it.”
Unofficially, Easterling hauled in nine rebounds.
You can reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.