2,500-plus watch Fairmont beat Centerville for 11th straight time

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Fairmont’s Chelsea Welch is headed to Duquesne (Photo by Mark Lewis).

The biggest game to date of the high school basketball season in the
Miami Valley was played Saturday. And it didn’t include boys. Santa
gave girls basketball fans a special present when he produced a meeting
between undefeateds Fairmont and Centerville and like the fat man will
in two days – the Elks and Firebirds delivered.


CENTERVILLE – The biggest game to date of the high school basketball season in the Miami Valley was played Saturday. And it didn’t include boys.

Santa gave girls basketball fans a special present when he produced a meeting between undefeateds Fairmont and Centerville and like the fat man will in two days – the Elks and Firebirds delivered.

A meeting of Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division sistren with legit state title aspirations, Fairmont continued its mastery of its rival with a 69-62 road win before a crowd of 2,500-plus at CHS. It was the Firebirds 11th straight victory in the series.

Fairmont, ranked No. 1 in the National Guard JJHuddle Division I State Poll, improves to 8-0, 2-0. Centerville, No. 7, slips to 7-1, 1-1. The rematch is Jan. 23 at Trent Arena.

“The kids want this game,” Fairmont coach Tim Cogan said. “You can see it in their eyes. Centerville-Fairmont is always going to be like that.”

Luckily for Centerville, Fairmont isn’t always going to have senior guard Chelsea Welch. The Duquesne recruit was the difference – along with a huge disparity at the free throw line.

Tied 32-32 in the third quarter, Welch scored seven straight points as part of a 9-0 Fairmont run that provided a cushion Centerville could never climb. The Elks came within 61-57 with 57 seconds to go, but six Fairmont free throws in the final 42 seconds delivered the win.

Coming into the game, Fairmont was shooting just 56-percent from the free throw line. The Firebirds hit 33-of-41, while Centerville made 6-of-9.

“That was the key to our success tonight,” Cogan said. “We knew we had to attack the rim. That was our best chance in this game and it worked to our advantage.”

Said Welsh: “Getting to the line was important. Finishing there was too.”

Junior Kathryn Westbeld led Fairmont with 26 points (13-of-16 from the foul line). Welch scored 20 (9-of-13 from the foul line). Junior Danie Shafer added 10.

Centerville was led by senior guard Alex Henning’s 25 points. Senior Madison Rittinger scored 12.

“They capitalized on the opportunities that presented themselves,” Centerville coach Adam Priefer said. “When they got to the line they made free throws. And they got to the line a lot.”

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