- By Marc Pendleton Staff Writer
Soon after Jeremey Finn landed the Fairmont High School girls basketball head coach position, he received a call from the North Carolina State University women’s program. Then Miami and Wright State.
Word travels fast when it involves the area’s best potential recruits.
“It’s been going on like that since (last week),” said Finn, a former Fairmont boys basketball assistant. “I think that’s fantastic. I’m excited for the girls and that’s what puts you on the big stage.”
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Finn is the third head coach the Firebirds have had since last season. Lacy Drake resigned after five years, guiding Fairmont (17-9) to a second-place tie with Centerville and Wayne in the Greater Western Ohio Conference National East and a Division I district final appearance.
Former Centerville boys assistant Kyle Boze was named to succeed Drake and guided the Firebirds through offseason workouts this summer. But that also coincided with a flareup of his congenital heart disease. Just 27 years old, Boze resigned from his coaching position earlier this month rather than risk more medical complications. He never coached Fairmont in a game.
Finn has extensive AAU girls coaching experience and last season was Oakwood’s girls basketball head coach. He also was the Stebbins boys basketball head coach for seven seasons.
Finn was on Fairmont’s boys staff from 2005-09 when Hank Bias was the Firebirds head coach. That was the beginning of Fairmont becoming a D-I state power in girls basketball. With Tim Cogan as head coach, Fairmont played in four straight D-I final fours from 2010-13 and won a state championship in 2013.
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Cogan is now the Carroll boys basketball coach.
“The history and the tradition, it’s important,” said Finn, a Delphos native who teaches in the Mad River Local School District. “That’s one of the things I want the girls to know. It’s a rich tradition. (Fairmont) girls basketball has been a powerhouse for a long time.”
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Fairmont returns its top six scorers, including a front line of 6-foot-3 junior Maddy Westbeld (11.3 points, 11.1 rebounds), 6-3 junior Madison Bartley (10.6, 7.0) and 6-foot senior Mali Morgan-Elliott (10.6, 6.0).
Westbeld is the younger sister of former Fairmont standout Kathryn Westbeld, a senior starter on the University of Notre Dame’s national champions this past season. Uncommitted, Maddy’s signature will be among the most sought-after for the recruiting Class of 2020.
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Morgan-Elliott recently decommitted from Kent State and has multiple other offers, including most Mid-American Conference programs. She added an offer from Indiana State this week.
“I’m excited for the girls and that’s what puts you on the big stage,” Finn said. “You have an opportunity. You have to take care of business and represent that name on our jersey.”
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Neither Oakwood nor West Carrollton of the GWOC have announced new girls varsity basketball head coaches. Other new girls basketball head coaches will be in place at Greenon, Kenton Ridge, Mississinawa Valley, National Trail, Southeastern, Springfield Shawnee and Urbana.
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The coaches no-contact period ends on Friday. Preseason practice begins on Friday, Oct. 26. Most teams will open the season on Friday, Nov. 23.
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