“You’ve got to respect Fairmont,” Carson said. “They’re a feisty group, and they’re not going to go away easy. You’ve got to defend them for 32 minutes, and that’s what we did tonight… I think we took them a little lightly the first time because we had a big game with Moeller the next night. We could have looked ahead tonight to another big test.”
Springfield (18-2) has that test with Trotwood at home. The Rams (19-2) are ranked third in Div. II in the Associated Press state poll.
“There aren’t any gimmes on our schedule,” Carson said. “We’re always playing somebody tough, and Fairmont’s tough in their own right. Our schedule is challenging, and (Trotwood) will be a good challenge right before the tournament. You’ve got to play every night in the tournament, because everybody is going to give you their best shot.”
NO. 1 SEEDS: There’s no beating Trotwood, Springfield
The Wildcats led by nine after the first half and put the game away in the third quarter. Michael McKay hit a shot off the glass with three minutes left and followed a little later with two free throws to cap off a 15-6 run, which put Springfield up 47-30. Fairmont came no closer than nine points in the fourth quarter.
The Firebirds committed 19 turnovers in the game compared to nine by Springfield and were outrebounded unofficially 25-19. They made 47.5 percent of shots from the field from the field (19-of-40) while Springfield 59.5 percent (25-of-42).
“Everything that we could not do in that game, we did,” Fairmont coach Blair Albright said. “We turned the basketball over, we didn’t get back on defense and we didn’t keep them off the offensive glass… You’re not going to beat anybody playing like that, but that’s kind of the way our season has gone.
“When we’ve chosen to play the game with effort and focus, we’ve been pretty good. When we’ve not done that, we’ve proven we can lose to anybody.”
McKay led Springfield with 23 points, while Danny Davis added 15 and Leonard Taylor scored 11. Davis and Taylor both brought down seven rebounds unofficially.
Springfield jumped out to a 13-2 lead after a McKay dunk midway through the first quarter. McKay was called for a technical for holding onto the rim, though, and Fairmont’s Kamron Drollet hit two resulting free throws to start a Firebird run.
Fairmont cut Springfield’s lead to 18-11 by the end of the first quarter and then scored the first five points of the second to pull within two. Springfield scored the next six points and extended its lead to 33-24 at halftime.
“They had 33 points at halftime, and only six of them didn’t come at the rim,” Albright said. “They had one 3-pointer and three free throws, and everything else was at the rim. You can’t go into a game like that and have any chance at all. It’s disappointing — I thought we could play better.”
Springfield clinched the Greater Western Ohio Conference National East title outright with the victory. The Wildcats secured at least a share of the title last Friday against Wayne and have a 10-1 league record. It’s the first GWOC title for a Springfield high school since 2005.
McKay, who had another dunk in the second half, said the conference title is the result of years of work by the team.
“We’ve been working real hard and we’re proud, but we want to keep it going and win a lot more,” McKay said. “A win on Friday would be big, and we can’t let (Trotwood) win on our court.”
Fairmont fell to 9-12 overall and 2-9 in the GWOC National East. The Firebirds were led by Kamron Drollet, who scored 19 points. Cade Morgan scored nine points and had nine rebounds.
The teams could meet again in the postseason. Both are in the same bracket in the Dayton sectional, and if they win their first two games, they’ll face each other in a sectional final.
But Albright said Fairmont has to play much better in order to win tournament games.
“They need to show me they can play at a high level,” Albright said. “Right now, they’ve not shown me that.”