DAYTON — You would have thought it was a home game for Fairborn, Friday night at UD Arena in the sectional final against New Carlisle Tecumseh. With a student section that quickly silenced any noise from the Tecumseh crowd, the Fairborn Skyhawks were able to claim the Division I sectional championship, 59-54.
It was a tale of two underdogs when these teams met.
Fairborn, who came into the night winning 10 in a row, had upset no. 3 seed Beavercreek in their previous game. The Skyhawks came back from 10 down to win 56-53. The Arrows similarly have won nine of their last 10, and upset no. 4 seed Springfield, 68-55, in their previous matchup.
Both teams came out showcasing their shooting skills. They traded threes in the opening quarter, Fairborn (18-7) hit three in the first and Tecumseh (20-5) drained four. The score was tied at 13 with just over four seconds left in the quarter, when Tecumseh sophomore Malik Quisenberry hit a halfcourt buzzer-beater just before the horn.
The hot shooting continued into the second quarter. Both teams combined for a total of 13 three-pointers in the opening half, and Fairborn led 32-23 at the break.
“Well, it was definitely a lot of fun. These guys put together a great first half, especially defensively. Going into the halftime with a nine point lead, we made some big three pointers early on,” said Fairborn head coach Nate Chivington. “We knew that they were capable of going on some runs, and they did that in the second half. They brought a lot of pressure and forced us into some turnovers and were able to capitalize off it. We knew that they going to put up a fight, we knew it was going to be a close game, but it’s nice for our seniors that we can continue on with the season.”
The Arrows came out in the second half playing more physical and slowing the pace. They caused multiple turnovers and cut the Fairborn lead to two with just over four minutes left in the third quarter, leading to a Fairborn timeout with the score at 37-35.
“They got good ball players, and they’re well coached. I got nothing but respect for coach Culbertson with what he’s done with that program over the years,” said Chivington
Jordan Michael came out on the ensuing play and hit a three pointer to calm Tecumseh’s momentum. Michael had 17 points at halftime and 21 for the game. Senior Malik Jacobs had 16 points.
“I’m really excited, because we were here my freshman year, at the sectional finals, and we got smacked my Meadowdale. So it really feels good to go out here and win,” said Michael. “Everything is just clicking for our team. We’re all doing the right things, all the little things. We’re just coming together at the right time.”
The game remained close in the fourth, but every time it seemed like the Arrows were about to go on a run, Fairborn did a good job stopping the momentum. On one play, a Tecumseh player had a break to the basket in transition, but Jacobs was able to catch him and block the shot. He then drove the ball all the way down the court and got an and-one.
“It was an exciting game. We knew we were going to have a big crowd in the student section, so we knew it was going to be a good game. We knew we were going against a good team, so we came out ready to play,” said Jacobs. “There were more loose balls, people were diving, more fouls were called. We just stepped up. We’ve been in this instance before. When the game gets close, we know how to handle the runs.”
Fairborn will now face Cincinnati Moeller, Friday’s 55-42 winner over Liberty Township Lakota East, in the District semifinal. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. March 8 at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.
“This is a great group of guys, it’s been a lot of fun,” said Chivington. “We have the best fans in the land right now and hopefully we continue with this.”