CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Defending state champion Fairmont Senior Friday night secured a third straight trip to the Class AA boys basketball title game, beating Mingo Central 62-44.

The top seed Polar Bears (24-3) fell behind, 17-11, after the first quarter, but answered with a 17-4 run in the second quarter to take a 28-21 lead into the break.

A defensive switch to zone helped slow down the Miners, which shot 54 percent in the first quarter and 17 percent in the second.

“The big thing for us was how well we played defensively,” said Fairmont Senior coach Dave Retton. “We are a pressing team, but they did a great job of attacking the press with a couple of breakaways.

“So, we played more zone defense tonight in this game than we have all year combined,” he continued. “The last time we played zone was against Philip Barbour in December.”

Taevon Horton and Zyon Dobbs scored 13 points apiece for Fairmont Senior in the win as the Polar Bears shot 47 percent from the floor.

“We had a lot of respect for (Mingo Central),” Retton said. “You look at their scores and what they did (Thursday) night – all of their guys. We really felt we had our hands full tonight. We just had a total team effort with 14 assists and only seven turnovers.”

No. 5 Mingo Central (20-7) was led by Jeremy Dillon who finished with 18 points on 6 of 19 shooting in the loss.

“We knew coming in that they were going to be a tough matchup,” said Mingo Central coach Kevin Hatfield. “They’re really long and athletic. We thought we could play with them and take some things away from them.

“But we had to box-out, we had to rebound, play extremely good defense and take good shots,” he continued. “Fact of the matter is we didn’t shoot very well. Probably the worst thing that happened, believe it or not, was them getting out of their press.”

Fairmont Senior moves on to face No. 3 Chapmanville for the Class AA title on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

The Polar Bears defeated Chapmanville three months ago, 72-54, back in December.

“They’re an improved basketball team,” Retton said. “They have size, strength inside and (multiple) guys who can shoot the ball really well. With that said, we’re an improved basketball team too. What we did in December doesn’t matter. It matters (Saturday) who gets their game in.”

MetroNews will have live video streaming of all three title games Saturday at the MetroNews Channel of

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