FAIRMONT, W.Va. — It remains to be seen just how much of an impact Meredith Maier makes at Fairmont Senior.
But Maier, a transfer from Grafton, could have hardly made a better impression in her Polar Bears’ debut Tuesday against Bridgeport at the Fairmont Senior Field House.
The junior, who earned Class AA third-team all-state honors with the Bearcats last season, scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to key FSHS to an 86-59 win over Bridgeport on the opening night in girls basketball across the state.
“What she does is take a lot of the pressure off (returning all-state guard Marley Washenitz),” Polar Bears’ coach Corey Hines said. “Marley still handles it and she’ll do her thing, but she doesn’t have to do everything, because Meredith can really help us out.”
The Indians got off to a strong start and built a 12-6 lead, but the Polar Bears ended the opening quarter on an 8-0 run to go ahead.
Fairmont Senior carried that momentum over into the second period, scoring the first 11 points to up its advantage to 25-12. Maier had consecutive layups during the surge, while Washenitz, a junior, accounted for five of her 21 points to help the Polar Bears lead by 13.
But Bridgeport answered with its own 9-0 run to close the deficit to four, before another Fairmont Senior surge sent the Polar Bears into halftime with a 32-22 advantage. Maier and Washentiz combined for all but eight of their team’s points through two quarters.
The Polar Bears picked up their defensive play to start the second half, forcing three Bridgeport turnovers in the opening minute to spark an 8-0 run. When Maier accounted for the next basket on a stickback, Senior held a commanding 42-22 lead.
Maier scored eight third-quarter points, while Washenitz added seven to help the Polar Bears take a 58-37 lead into the fourth.
The Indians never got closer than 16 in the final quarter.
“I’d be concerned if the first game was perfect, because the goal is still to improve as the season goes on,” Hines said. “But we did a lot of good things and we turned it up a notch in the second half.”
Maier made four of her team’s 10 3-pointers, while Washenitz connected on three triples. Washenitz, a West Virginia University commit, also had a game-high 11 assists.
Bekah Jenkins scored 13 points in the win and all five Polar Bear starters accounted for at least five points.
“We only have 11 girls, but this group plays hard,” Hines said. “They give great effort and that’s all you can ask for.”
Bridgeport sophomore Gabby Reep poured in 27 points in defeat. The Indians had 14 second-half turnovers, while the Polar Bears had only four.
“I don’t like to see us give up that many points,” Hines said. “We have a long way to go on defense.”