Skyhawks girls basketball ‘proud’ to have losing streak end


FAIRBORN — Chelsea Nichols admitted she was tired of hearing about the streak.

The Fairborn girls basketball head coach had spoken earlier in the season about her team being close to getting a win on numerous occasions, but its youth and inexperience were at the forefront of her concerns rather than what to do about the three-year long losing skid for the program. Those priorities were in the right place.

That became clear once the final buzzer sounded for Fairborn’s 47-43 win against Greenville on Feb. 3. The 66-game losing streak, which dated back to exactly three years prior to the win, was finally over.

“I think I was in shock,” Morgan Hollon said. “Honestly, we were all so excited. We haven’t experienced that in like three years, so it was just a lot of shock.”

The win may be a shock, but there was no surprise it happened.

In the previous two seasons, the Skyhawks had failed to reach the 10-point total on 10 different occasions. Its average loss was by more than 37 points during those two campaigns. But Fairborn has been on a steady improvement this season that observers recognized could lead to a breakthrough.

Hollon, one of two seniors on this year’s team along with Liz VanCleve, has been on the journey longer than her second-year coach. She said she could tell the amount of work by her teammates being put in on the court was making them become a more cohesive group as the season progressed and that the feelings that the elusive win was coming but still couldn’t help that thoughts stuck around that it potentially would not happen.

“I mean there were some doubts,” Hollon said. “When it’s been three years it happens, but I felt like if we went out there and played out best we could do it.”

The losses had continued through the first 18 games of this season, but the frequency in which the outcomes were still in doubt late in games had increased. The stretch of opponents to close the season provided optimism that from an outsider’s point of view may have seemed obtuse, but for the players and coaches a belief that it had improved enough to be on a more level playing field with its upcoming opponents.

Fairborn having to earn the win may be obvious, but in this case it was true. Greenville led by 10 points heading into the fourth quarter of the Feb. 3 matchup after the Skyhawks combined to score fewer points in the second and third quarters than it did during the first. Further complicating the opportunity at a win was the fact Fairborn didn’t have multiple players available for the game.

A team which is used to losing is assumed to be content with how things were playing out. Nichols said she didn’t see a “here it goes again” look on her team on this occasion and were in tune with one another that a win was possible.

Hollon said after she hit a three to cut the deficit in half early in the fourth quarter, she could sense she and her teammates all were ready to take control of the game.

“I called a timeout and they were all going in a good way,” Nichols said. “They believed they were going to win where sometimes in the past it has been ‘eh’, and that was huge for them. They never got down in the fourth quarter and they never faltered, it was just a belief of we are winning this.”

After taking the lead, the game came down to holding onto the lead at the free throw line. Cool and collected, Nichols said it was clear to her the rigors of watching older and more experienced opponents do the same to them night in and night out had imprinted itself into her team’s mindset and they knew what to do despite rarely ever being in the situation.

Normally the losses Fairborn had been used to experiencing felt as if they had prolonged endings that the ending couldn’t come soon enough.

On this day, Nichols said she was shocked at quickly it felt the fourth quarter played out and wondered if the final buzzer sounding happened too soon.

“That just has never happened,” she said. “It felt like it went so fast and the buzzer rang and we just had to look over at each other and think, really?”

Fairborn followed up its landmark win with a trip out as a team to celebrate the streak coming to an and. In the two games which followed the Greenville win, both ended as losses before the team proved its win wasn’t a fluke.

Hollon prior to her Senior Day game against Franklin said the opportunity for the team to continue playing hard and not be satisfied with just getting one win was still available. And she was right. The Skyhawks closed the regular season by earning another one against Troy on Saturday in a 37-31 road victory.

“I know we didn’t win the other game, but I’m really happy with how we’re playing right now,” Nichols said before Saturday’s second win. “I’m really proud of them and happy they get to have that experience.”

This season is wrapping up. There may be more instances in upcoming seasons for Fairborn it feels like it’s back to the way things have been. There could be others where winning starts to be a more common occurrence.

There certainly won’t be any more nights they have to hear about the losing streak again.

Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on X (formerly Twitter) @Steven_Wright_.

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