One of the surprises at the top of the Metronews Power Index this season is the Fairmont Senior Polar Bears. Dave Retton’s club is ranked No. 4 in this week’s edition of the PI. While some of us may be surprised that the Polar Bears are ranked so high, Retton is not.
“With what these kids have done in the offseason as far as the work they’ve done in the weight room and conditioning and during our three week period we had some high expectations heading into the season,” said Fairmont coach Dave Retton. “I haven’t been surprised, but I think some of our kids have been surprised by their success. So, I’m excited about where we are, but we have a long way to go to be the team that we set out to be at the beginning of the season.”
But, Fairmont Senior (9-1) has plenty of time to get there. They are already ahead of the curve. You see, the Polar Bears are extremely young. They only have four seniors on their entire roster and start a freshman and two sophomores.
“We’re excited about the present, but we’re also excited about the future, certainly in the next two or three years as these kids get older,” Retton said.
But it’s too early to starting looking that far ahead, there is still work to be done this year.
Retton says he has the type of players who want to work hard and exceed expectations, “We have kids that play with a lot of passion and are very committed to getting better. They want to be coached; they want to be corrected; they want to improve. They want to improve individually and as a team. When you have a team like that to work with it makes it a lot of fun.”
Every success experienced this season by the Polar Bears can be attributed to one thing–defense.
“Our offense is going to come off of what we do defensively” said Retton. “If we’re defending and we’re doing what we want to do on defense then we’re going to be able to run our fast break and hopefully get some easy baskets.”
So, if you see a Fairmont box score and the points are in the 60s it’s a good bet the game went in favor of the Polar Bears. They are averaging 66 points per game in their wins.
Retton wants to run for a simple reason–his team is not only young, but it’s small. His starting center is 6-foot-3 and there is only one other player who sees significant playing time about six foot tall.
“We have a six foot and under team at times,” chuckled Retton. “We’ll put five guards on the court when we press. We try to spread the floor out and get good movement on our offense and hopefully we get good shots. We press—we have to because of our size. We can’t afford to sit back in a zone and let teams attack us because we are so small.”
The Polar Bears may be small and they may be young, but they’re tenacious and they have the heart to play against the best teams in the state that just happen to be in their region. If Fairmont Senior is to make it to Charleston they’ll have to go through a gauntlet in the sectionals and regionals where the likes of No. 2 Preston, No. 3 Morgantown and No. 5 Wheeling Park lurk.
But, even if they don’t make it this year, watch out for the Polar Bears. I have a feeling they’ll be pretty good for some years to come.