FAIRMONT, W.Va – Robert C. Byrd used five free throws in the third overtime on Wednesday night to sneak past a pesky Fairmont Senior squad 74-71. The Eagles (9-0) entered the game as the top ranked Class AA team in the MetroNews Power Index.
“They took it to us for a long time, we were fortunate to get out of here with a win,” RCB head coach Bill Bennett said. “I told our kids that these guys (Fairmont Senior) are young enough to come out and not care who you are, play and have fun – and they did.”
It was a game both teams thought they had won multiple times in regulation. Fairmont Senior (4-4) led for the majority of the second half until the final moments of the fourth quarter when Justin Noble put RCB ahead 52-50.
After a missed Fairmont Senior shot, RCB was called for its sixth team foul as the Eagles had to throw the ball in from mid-court with 17 seconds left in regulation.
On that ensuing in-bounds play, Polar Bears’ guard Darhius Nunn stepped in front of the pass and raced to the bucket for a lay-up that knotted the game at 52-52, ultimately sending the game into overtime.
“The guys were tremendous tonight, the effort and desire to win was there,” Fairmont Senior head coach David Retton said. ”We competed every play and I couldn’t be more proud of our team.”
The first extra period saw the two teams trade bucket-for-bucket throughout. Down three, it was Fairmont Senior’s Tavon Horton knocking down a 3 that tied the game at 62-62 just 1.7 seconds to go, ultimately sending the game into another extra session.
In the second overtime, again the game was back-and-forth, except this time RCB had the ball in hand in the waning seconds – but a Luke Dyer potential game-winning shot rolled around the rim twice before falling out, sending the game into third overtime.
In the third overtime, RCB gained some separation behind those five free throws and survived a deep, potential game-tying 3-point try from Joseph Leon.
“We’re going to be able to look at the last four minutes of the fourth quarter and probably the first two overtimes and learn a lot from it,” Bennet said. “We made enough plays to win the game three times, but we only won it once – it was just a crazy game.”
RCB was led my Justin Noble who had game-highs with 24 points and 17 rebounds. Cameron Carvelli added 14 points, all in the second half and overtime, and Devonti Birch chipped in 14 as well in the win.
“He had an outstanding game for them tonight,” Retton said of Noble. “He’s really improved his game, just his post presence and the ability to go get the ball.”
Horton, who dealt with cramping in the overtime sessions, led the way for the Polar Bears with 17 points, while Nunn added 13 of his own.
“(Horton) was tough, he was guarding the best offensive guard and then he had to shoulder a lot of the load ball handling, when we lost Darhius,” Retton said.
RCB travels to East Fairmont on Friday. Fairmont Senior will look to regroup on Saturday as the Polar Bears travel to Elkins for a date with the Tigers.
“The game is going to sting, but at the same time we have to do a great job of moving forward,” Retton said.