By John Bombatch
SPRINGBORO — The Greater Western Ohio Conference’s South Division was so good this year, why not have three champions?
That’s exactly what happened as Fairborn defeated Springboro, 69-59, Tuesday night on the Panthers’ home floor. With the win, Fairborn, Springboro and Xenia all finished the regular season with identical 8-2 divisional records.
Jordan Pumroy scored a game-high 24 points, Branden Lilley tossed in 21 and Brandon Easterling added 14 to lead the Skyhawks to the win.
Moments after the game ended, Springboro boys basketball coach Mike Holweger showed that the GWOC South has plenty of sportsmanship and class as well. Holweger gathered both teams together, grabbed the public address announcer’s microphone and, with Xenia head coach Kent Anderson and his staff on hand as well, congratulated all three teams for a terrific championship season.
“Obviously we’re disappointed that we didn’t get the win tonight, but Fairborn? You guys have a great team. Kent and the rest of the Xenia team, you’ve got a great team, and (Springboro) is a great basketball team as well,” Holweger said, motioning toward his Panther players.
” As much as we wanted to win, the idea of competition is to go against guys who bring out your absolute best. When you play Xenia, when you play Fairborn or when you play Springboro, you know that you’re going to have to play your very best. Congratulations to all three teams, you’re GWOC South champions!”
And with that, several members of the Fairborn team dove into the student section in celebration.
While the Fairborn players carried their celebration to the visiting team’s locker room, Springboro’s players and cheerleaders took their turns cutting down the nets as Queen’s “We Are The Champions” played softly over the loudspeakers.
Drew Holweger tossed in a team-high 21 points for the Panthers, Jake Bourke finished with 11 p0ints and Justin Rigg finished with nine.
Fairborn coach Nathan Chivington said he emphasized taking away Springboro inside scoring threat Rigg in the second half.
“We wanted to deny Rigg a little bit better (in the post). Ryan Profitt did a really good job. Obviously, he got in a little bit of foul trouble, but we needed his defense in the second half and he really did a great job for us,” Chivington said. “Lilley and Pumroy. They put on a shooting display, especially in the first half, and that was definitely something that lifted us up. We were down by 10 points early, and then we finish off the first quarter with six points (two Pumroy threes). That gave us a nice little boost and some confidence.”
Fairborn took that confidence and outscored Springboro, 25-19, in the second quarter. They trailed 33-26 with two minutes left in the half, but that’s when Lilley hit two treys and a deuce, and Pumroy sank a pair of free throws for a 10-0 run and a 36-35 lead at halftime.
Springboro never led again.
“Guys definitely stepped up at the foul line and knocked down their shots tonight. Easterling wasn’t just big from the free throw line, but he came up with some big steals as well, when we needed them. Offensive rebounds. The first time we played them, they ended up making 24 free throws against us, and we kinda turned the table on them this time around.”
Fairborn (14-8) converted 19-of-22 free-throw tries in the fourth quarter.
Springboro (17-5) hit just 9-of-10 free throws for the entire game.