FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Coming off an impressive 15-point win against Morgantown two nights earlier, Fairmont Senior was out to avoid looking past a Lincoln team that entered Thursday’s matchup with the Polar Bears winners of six straight and nine of their last 10.
From the outset of the Big 10 Conference clash at the Fairmont Senior Field House, it was apparent the Cougars win streak would not reach seven as the Polar Bears were clicking on all cylinders and rolled to a 79-34 victory.
“It’s a solid game and to come off of an emotional big win playing against a very good opponent, I really liked our mindset this game,” Fairmont Senior coach David Retton said. “I really liked our kids approach to the game and what we were able to accomplish. We’re really making good strides with our team.”
With the win, Fairmont Senior improved to 10-1 while recording its fifth straight victory. The Cougars fell to 10-3 with their second loss since Dec. 13.
The Polar Bears made 11-of-15 field goal attempts in the opening quarter, building a 9-2 lead over the first 2:47, then upping it to 16-5 at the 2:52 mark following Jaelin Johnson’s layup.
The second of Jalen Bridges’ two 3-pointers in the opening quarter allowed the Polar Bears to hold a 29-7 lead through the first eight minutes.
“They were hungy and they wanted to prove a point. For us to have a chance, they have to miss shots and we have to rebound,” Lincoln coach Jordan Toth said. “We have to play a pretty perfect game and we didn’t do that tonight. We had way too many early turnovers and that’s when they’re at their best and finishing around the rim.”
Zyon Dobbs opened the second-quarter scoring with a 3, and although a Dasilas Jones layup marked the only other Fairmont Senior field goal of the quarter, the Polar Bears built their lead to 39-13 at halftime thanks to more strong defensive play.
Lincoln had 14 first-half turnovers and attempted only 16 shots, while the Polar Bears got 13 points from Dobbs and nine more from Jones to lead comfortably.
Additionally, FSHS held a 16-9 rebounding advantage at halftime en route to controlling the glass for the contest 35-19.
The Polar Bears picked up where they left off to start the second half, scoring the first 10 points of the third quarter on a Jones 3, Patrick Laxton’s conventional three-point play and a reverse layup and dunk by Bridges for back-to-back buckets.
“We were locked in offensively and defensively for three quarters. Our defense was really good in the second quarter,” Retton said. “I really liked how we closed out the second quarter and we had really good momentum heading into the third quarter.
“Our guys pretty much stayed true to what we wanted to accomplish and we did that. I’m talking how we shared the ball, our movement on offense and what we did to take away their offense.”
Another three-point play from Laxton, combined with a Dobbs 3, allowed the Polar Bears to hold a 55-15 lead and it became a 61-20 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
Jones ended with a game-high 20 points, using his aggressive approach to shoot 7-of-10 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Dobbs added 19 points, while Bridges scored 14 in the win. Laxton was also in double figures with 10 on 4-of-5 shooting.
Johnson, Bridges and Trey Washenitz each came down with five rebounds, while Jones and Dobbs totaled five and four assists, respectively.
Hunter Moore’s eight points led Lincoln, which shot a respectable 15-of-40 but turned it over 22 times in defeat.