NEW CARLISLE — At full strength and much taller than anybody else, the top-seeded Centerville Elks made quick work of the youthful Fairborn Skyhawks, Tuesday Feb. 25 in a Division I sectional second-round game at Tecumseh High School’s Reynolds Gymnasium.
Centerville (13-11) led 22-2 at one point in the first quarter, and just extended that lopsided margin the rest of the way, for an 80-29 win.
“Yeah, they’re very good,” Fairborn coach Billy Harchick said as he sat in the Skyhawks locker room afterwards. “We knew going in that they were the no. 1 seed. They had some big kids out there that, we’d try to do the little things matchup-wise, but it just didn’t seem like anything would work.
“In all facets of the game, they were better than us. Defensively. We hadn’t seen a defense like that all year, I think. That’s tough.”
Fairborn junior forward Cole Spencer was the only Skyhawk to score in the opening period of play, hitting a two- and a three-point shot. By the time the first quarter had ended, the Elks were rolling with a 26-5 lead.
Spencer was Fairborn’s tallest player at 6-foot-3.
Centerville’s roster lists six players who are 6-4 or taller. With no-longer-injured senior forward Mo Njie the tallest Elk at 6-9. Njie had missed six games with an ankle injury suffered during the annual Flyin’ To The Hoop basketball showcase event back on Jan. 19.
With the outcome of Tuesday’s Dayton 2 Bracket sectional semifinal game decided early, Centerville coach Brook Cupps rotated most of his lineup into the game. His son, freshman guard Gabe Cupps, led all scorers with 15 points in three quarters of action. Six-foot-seven sophomore forward Rich Rolf scored 13 points, Njie scored 12, and eight other Elks accounted for the other 40 points.
Shy of hoisting his entire returning team onto a medieval rack to make them taller, Harchick said his team needs to work hard to improve themselves over the off season.
“The off season is where these kids can get themselves to be better,” he said. “They’ve got to put in the time and effort, and they have to want to get better.”
Juniors Blake Huffman and Dwight Lewis each scored eight points for the Skyhawks (1-22), Spencer finished with seven, senior Jackson Coolman scored four points in his final game, fellow senior Tyren Schultz hit a free throw, and freshman Caelan Bush also scored a free throw in the loss. Keegan Dierker also played his final game.
“Dwight (Lewis) played hard for us from start to finish, and he’s done that for us all season,” Harchick said. “Cole Spencer played a great game, and played some tough minutes against Big Mo (Njie). Those two, I thought played a good game for us tonight.”
Harchick said he appreciated the seniors’ leadership and effort.
“The positivity that they brought to each practice and to games was great. They’re hard working kids, and I was glad that they were around,” he said.
Centerville now advances to the sectional title game at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28 against Huber Heights Wayne, a 55-50 overtime winner over Carroll. The Elks beat Wayne by two back on Dec. 13, 2019; they then lost at Wayne on Feb. 7 when Njie was still injured. The sectional final will take place at Trotwood-Madison High School.