It’s been four straight years of girls basketball excellence at Fairmont High School. But there remains one final hurdle for the Firebirds to clear: Beat Twinsburg.
That’s what Fairmont hasn’t been able to do in the last couple of Division I state title games. They’ll get their third straight chance today.
“Relieved to be here and be in a state final game? Absolutely,” Fairmont coach Tim Cogan said after withstanding Toledo Notre Dame 37-31 in a D-I semifinal on Friday. “Will we get much sleep? No.”
Its offense unplugged most of the first half, including a four-point second quarter, Fairmont finally took control of a tight game with a 9-0 fourth-quarter surge.
Chelsea Welch converted all eight of her fourth-quarter free throws.
The Firebirds also defeated the Eagles in a 2012 state semi, 54-45. Twinsburg defeated Lewis Center Olentangy Orange 73-63 in Friday’s earlier semi at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.
“We tried not to look ahead too much,” said Welch, who had 10 points and two steals.
“It’s a really great feeling that I can go back to the championship in my senior year. I’m really proud of my coach and my team.”
Kathryn Westbeld led Fairmont with 11 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Makayla Waterman added nine points and five rebounds.
Jayda Worthy tallied 15 points for ND. If Fairmont’s offense was mostly idling, its defense was humming. Third-team All-Ohioan Tierra Floyd, an emerging 6-foot-1 ND center, went scoreless after putting up 20 points in a regional final.
The Firebirds will need more of the same shut-down defense against Twinsburg’s Ashley Morrissette. Named Ms. Basketball this week, the 5-9 senior (19.0 ppg) is headed to Purdue University.
Twinsburg has won 44 straight games and hasn’t lost to an Ohio team since the 2010 regional final, a stretch of 73 games.
In their fourth straight trip to Columbus, Cogan has an idea what might make a difference in the Firebirds winning their first title.
“Prayer; faith,” he said, laughing. “Honestly, we’ve got to believe that we can do that. We gotta have faith. We gotta believe in a higher power to help us get to where we want to go.”