Dalton Davis’ eyes were swollen, the white replaced by red.
Close to him was Josiah McFarland, another Tecumseh senior. He was slumped on a wall, trying to follow instructions to identify a possible concussion. Besides a bop on the head, there was a large welt that was growing under his left eye.
That was just part of the fallout that Tecumseh absorbed following a season-ending 59-54 setback to Fairborn in one of three hotly contested boys high school Division I basketball sectional finals at UD Arena on Friday night.
“We believed,” said Dalton, the Arrows’ leading scorer this season. “We just couldn’t pull through this time. I miss it already.”
There will be much to miss from this Tecumseh team, especially the eight seniors: Shawn Mosser, Cam Wardley, Casey Stafford, Tre Borgman, Traquan Brown, Landon Smith, Davis and McFarland. The Arrows (20-5) hadn’t played for a sectional championship since the 2006 season.
Tecumseh beat Greenville 45-40 and stunned Springfield 68-55 to earn the sectional title game with streaking Fairborn. Initially, it didn’t look promising; the Arrows trailed by nine points at halftime.
“We’ve been in that position before and worked our way back,” McFarland said. “We have that warrior mentality.”
The Arrows got defensive after the break and got back into contention. Davis hit a transition layup to pull Tecumseh within 53-52 in the final 90 seconds. A minute later he hit another to cut Fairborn’s advantage to three points. Fairborn answered with a runner in the lane and free throws.
Fairborn (18-7) won its 11th straight and advanced to a district final on Saturday at Xavier University against Cincinnati Moeller (22-1).
McFarland led the Arrows with 15 points and Davis added 12.
“We all gave it our best effort,” said McFarland, who’s being courted by Ohio Northern University to play basketball. “It hurts. It just didn’t happen to work out at the end.”
Arrows coach Roger Culbertson offered a heartfelt thanks to the seniors. They played key roles in the previous two Tecumseh teams that were 18-5 and 14-7.
“They sold out for four years for us,” he said. “They played hard and they’re great kids in the classroom and great kids off the court. I think that reflects what you see on the court.”