By John Bombatch
VANDALIA — When asked to describe what his team’s been going through for the past few weeks, with battling their way to earn a share of the Greater Western Ohio Conference, Fairborn coach Nathan Chivington said his Skyhawks have been in “Survival Mode.”
The Skyhawks survived Saturday’s Division I sectional tournament opener against an ever improving Miamisburg team, winning 57-52 at Vandalia Butler High School’s Student Activities Center. It wasn’t pretty, but Chivington and his team will gladly take it.
“It wasn’t a pretty win, but it got the job done,” he said. “Lilley came alive for us in the fourth quarter and really gave us a spark. We just couldn’t seem to hit our shots there, but it was nice to see us hit our free throws down the stretch when we needed them.
“We’ve gotta do a better job of moving our feet defensively. We’re especially going to have to do that as we move on.”
Fairborn has a very athletic and speedy Springfield team up next. The two GWOC schools will battle in the second round at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Butler High.
Miamisburg had faced Fairborn twice during the regular season, losing by six points in December and by 10 points this past January. The Vikings led Saturday’s contest 6-0 before Fairborn could put a shot through the nets.
Teamwork got the job done offensively for Fairborn. Jordan Pumroy scored 12 of his game-high 18-point effort in the first half. Brandon Lilley had been held scoreless in the first half, but finished with 12 points, Ryan Profitt kept an even keel by scoring six first-half points and six more in the second half to also finish with 12, and Branden Easterling hit some crucial free throws in the second half to finish in double-figure scoring with 10.
Fairborn (15-8) hit seven of eight free-throw tries in the second half.
Miamisburg coach Tim Fries said Pumroy and Lilley were the difference.
“Their guard play is just so good,” Fries said. “Pumroy and Lilley are both first-team guys. We could hang in there, but they just made plays. Pumroy, when they needed a bucket he got there, and Lilley knocked down his shots in that fourth quarter. We’ve gradually improved as a team as the season wore on, and we played Fairborn a little bit better each time, but those guys hit some big shots when they needed them.”
Tyrell Waters led Miamisburg (8-15) with 14 points. He, David Harewood, Max Dungan, Tyler Sidenstick and Ken Zech played their final basketball games for the Vikings. Fries said he’s encouraged about his team’s future, however. Sidenstick was the only senior starter for Fries. That means he has four starters back next season including Kort Justice, who averaged a team-high 12.5 points a contest.
Tyler Johnson led Miamisburg in scoring on this night. He finished with 14 points and Waters was next with 10, Evan Fox tossed in nine points and Justice finished with four, well below his average.
“Right now, it’s just about survival,” Chivington said. “We’ve actually been in Survival Mode for awhile now, competing in the GWOC South. If we win, we’re going to celebrate it and learn from our mistakes. But right now, we’re in the top 50 percent in Ohio and get to move on. So we’ll celebrate this win and move on to the next one.”