By John Bombatch
FAIRBORN — Through his team’s first five games, Fairborn first-year coach has been encouraging his players to charge after offensive rebounds. Well, it may have taken five and a half games for his words to sink in, but the Skyhawks Jana Brown-Griffith got the message in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s girls high school basketball game at the Baker Memorial Fieldhouse.
With West Carrollton inching ever closer to Fairborn’s lead, Brown-Griffith snared three offensive rebounds in the final 72 seconds of the game — and put back a score after each one — to help Fairborn grab its first win of the season, 63-52.
“It feels good,” Harchick said after his first career victory as Fairborn’s girls basketball coach. “I don’t think we played our best, but we needed a win. … Jana had been in foul trouble the whole game, but she came in during that fourth quarter and she gave us a spark when we really needed it. We’d been preaching the last couple weeks for the kids to ‘Go get the ball!’ And I think she made that hard work pay off tonight. She really did.”
Brown-Griffith, who finished with four fouls against her, scored all 10 of her points in the second half. Evelyn Oktavec led the Skyhawks (1-5, 1-2 Greater Western Ohio Conference, American South) with 24 points, and Kaylie Cook finished with 15 in the win.
West Carrollton had trailed 54-50 when Brown-Griffith started snagging her fourth-quarter rebounds.
When asked about Brown-Griffith’s late offensive boards, West Carrollton coach Ryan Pasco just rolled his eyes.
“It’s tough. There’s no other way to put it. … It’s tough,” he said. “We’re trying to change the culture at West Carrollton, and I think it just comes down to discipline and figuring out how to win these close games. We’d pulled close a couple times. … I’m very proud of how they played, though. They came back from two big deficits of 14 and 15 points. I’m proud of them, we just have to take that next step.”
A definite Pirates positive came in the form of sophomore guard Kyisa Champaco, who dumped in a game-high 25 points in the loss. West Carrollton teammate Kayla Feltner scored nine of her 11 points in the second half.
Fairborn hits the road for its next game. The Skyhawks are scheduled to play Springfield at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17.
BENNER BOUND — West Carrollton’s next girls varsity basketball game will be played at the historic Benner Field House in Xenia. West Carrollton High and host Xenia High will be playing a series of girls and boys basketball games at the former home of the Xenia Buccaneers. The first game begins at 1:30 p.m. when the two schools’ boys freshman teams play. Boys junior varsity and girls junior varsity games will follow, with the girls varsity game tipping off at 6 p.m., followed by the boys varsity contest at approximately 7:30 p.m.
SKYHAWKS-PIRATES REMATCH — The boys varsity basketball teams for West Carrollton and Fairborn will match up tonight, Thursday, Dec. 15, for a 7:30 p.m. game at West Carrollton High School.
John Bombatch can be reached at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.