HUBER HEIGHTS — The Wayne Warrior basketball team overcame early struggles to rally late and beat the Fairmont Firebirds 65-57 at Wayne High School Friday night. This was the season opener for both Wayne and Fairmont.
Wayne had problems getting any shots to fall in the first quarter, but Fairmont’s junior guard Jack Hendricks hit a couple of 3-pointers and sophomore guard Kellan Bochenek added 5 points to go with 5 from junior forward Cade Morgan to end the first quarter up 16-9.
“We didn’t take very good shots. It’s the first game and these guys are so excited, their adrenaline was flowing so they are going to be kind of a little over-juiced anyways,” said Coach Travis Trice. “We made a lot of mistakes running our sets and took some bad shots.”
L’Christian Smith had 5 of the Warriors’ 9 in the first quarter, but would not play much more in the first half because he picked up two quick fouls and headed to the bench. He would not return to the game until the second half.
Coach Trice explained, “That changes a lot for us, he (L’Christian Smith) gets two quick fouls and now there’s no real guy in the middle that can do the things he does.”
Wayne extended its pressure to the backcourt and forced Fairmont to work harder to get into its set. This interrupted the Firebird offense and resulted in some forced turnovers by Wayne, leading to some points in transition and enabling a late second quarter run.
Wayne trailed the whole first half until Rashad McKee hit a three as time expired in the first half, giving Wayne its first lead at 29-27. McKee’s 3-pointer was one of two he hit late in the second quarter to energize the Wayne offense.
Fairmont came out and adjusted to the Wayne pressure and got hot shooting Jack Hendricks some clean looks behind the 3-point arch. Hendricks hit 3 of his 3 shots from behind the arch and added a nice back door reverse to run off 11 of the Firebirds’ 19 third quarter points. L’Christian Smith scored 7 of Wayne’s 14 points in the third quarter, but Wayne was trailing again at the end of the third quarter 46-43.
The Warrior offense roared to life in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. Isaiah Trice poured in 6 points and Smith scored 10 of the Warriors’ 22 fourth quarter points, double the 11 points Fairmont managed to score. Wayne was able to get in some passing lanes and pull down some big rebounds late in the game. This allowed Wayne to run the court on offense and take advantage of its athleticism.
Smith put a lot of pressure on the Fairmont defense. He was sent to the line numerous times, going 6 of 8 from the line; all in the fourth quarter. He also scored Wayne’s last 4 points with and alley-oop dunk followed by a put back slam. Smith ended the game tied for most points scored with Fairmont’s Jack Hendricks. Hendricks made six 3-pointers on the night. Isaiah Trice (2 for 6 from the free throw line) and Chandler Fointno (3 for 3 from the free throw line) added 11 points each for the Wayne Warriors.
The Warriors (1-0) have another home game Saturday Dec. 10 against Indianapolis Northwest and Fairmont (0-1) has a home contest against Bethel High.
Reach Robert Williamson II via email at: RobertWilliamsonII@hotmail.com