CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A dominant effort on Friday sent Class AA No. 2 Fairmont Senior to its third straight girls basketball title game, beating No. 3 North Marion 65-36.
“I want to give it up to my (assistant) coaches, they had and excellent game plan,” said Fairmont Senior coach Corey Hines. “Watching film, we wanted to change a few things up – we played a lot more man and didn’t press as much as we did in games past.
“These young ladies did an excellent job,” Hines continued. “We’ve played some good basketball (this season), but we hadn’t played four quarters the whole year. This was one of those games where I thought we were very close. Tomorrow, we should have four more good quarters.”
Fairmont Senior (23-4) won two of the three previous meetings between the two teams on the season – but all of those games were decided by single digits, with the Polar Bears taking a one-point victory in the sectional title game.
Friday’s state tournament semifinal was much different.
“I want to give (our players) credit,” Hines said. “It was about desire. They weren’t going to quit. North Marion has an excellent program and a lot of teams have a tendency to shy away from their pressure. But these young ladies kind of wanted that pressure and they wanted to play them. They believed in the game plan and they executed it.”
The Polar Bears never trailed, taking a 38-21 lead into the break as North Marion (22-5) made just 6 of 33 first half shot attempts.
By the 3:00 mark of the third quarter, the game was more than decided as Fairmont Senior built a 57-27 advantage.
Anysa Jordan finished with a double-double, scoring 26 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Erica Bowles also added 24 points on 8 of 18 shooting for the Polar Bears.
“We were all so excited and we were just ready. We look forward to (playing North Marion),” Bowles said. “Our team was in a good mood, joking around (before the game) – but we were focused.
“Our whole team just went crazy on defense with constant pressure and you can just tell how much our team wants it,” she continued. “We attacked them early, kept attacking and never gave them a chance to come back.”
North Marion was led by Taylor Buonamici’s 11 points. The Huskies finished just 11 of 54 from the floor for 20 percent shooting.
“We knew it was going to be a hard fought game,” said North Marion coach Mike Parrish. “We knew what we needed to do, but we just didn’t get it done. Transition killed us early. They were getting easy baskets, pounding it inside on us and getting second shots. We dug a hole and couldn’t recover.”
After two straight runner-up finishes, Fairmont Senior has another chance to bring home a title. The Polar Bears will face either No. 1 Bluefield or No. 4 Winfield in Saturday’s title game at 2:30 p.m.
“What else can you say? Hopefully we can take advantage of it this time,” Hines said. “We’re going to come in and compete. I don’t care who we play – but we’re very thankful that we have this opportunity.”
A win Saturday would be the first girls basketball championship for the school since it captured the Class AAA title in 1997.
“I’m not even thinking about losing,” Bowles said. “I believe in my team. We’re ready.”