CENTERVILLE — Beavercreek never had a lead in the game, but it never went away from being in it either.
The Beavers weren’t able to shut down the top options Fairmont has on its roster, but it came close in a 57-50 loss in the Division I sectional final at Centerville High School on Friday.
Adam Duvall scored seven straight points in the fourth quarter to help close an 11-point deficit to five.
A back-down basket by Gabe Phillips with 2:09 remaining cut the score to 49-46, but timely baskets and eight made free throws in the final minute held Beavercreek at bay.
“We expected to be here and we expected this to be a dog fight,” Beavers head coach Steve Pittman said. “You know, we got two coaches that respect each other. You got players that know each other. A lot of these kids have been playing against each other or with each other since the third grade.”
Phillips scored 18 points to lead Beavercreek while Duvall had 13. Gabe Aga had 10 and Jamir Hymes added five.
Using a size advantage inside, the early goal for Beavercreek appeared to be keeping Fairmont out of the lane while gaining easier shot attempts on its own end. Pittman praised Phillips performance for taking control of the paint and taking the focus off of his teammates.
The Firebirds, ranked No. 9 in the final state AP poll, were able to hit several shots over the top early. Beavercreek last tied the game at 17, but went into locker room trailing 26-18.
Fairmont grew its lead to as large as 15 before Beavercreek began its comeback attempt.
This was the third meeting between the GWOC rivals this season, but the first Fairmont did not win by double digits.
Fairmont was led by Dasan Doucet with 19 points and Aden Marrero’s 17.
Beavercreek finishes the season 15-10 after a fourth-place finish in the league which helped earn it the No. 4-seed in the sectional.
With six seniors exiting from its roster Pittman said he reminded those players, as well as returning ones, how legacy being left behind is setting an example for upcoming classes.
“I said everybody that’s playing here has a brick, and either you’re gonna be the brick that makes us stronger and makes this foundation strong, or are you going to be part of the brick that makes that building crumble?” Pittman said. “As I told them, if you look at their three years, the probably 10-15 years prior to me getting here and then the last three years, what they’ve done from sophomore to senior year, they’ve done more than solidify this foundation for the next class to come through. So there’s really no more excuses because they’ve already set the table.”
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.