The gymnasium at Whiteoak High School was rocking on Tuesday night at the Wildcats hosted the Fairfield Lions in a tightly contested cross-county and Southern Hills Athletic Conference showdown and the Wildcats emerged with the win by a score of 64-55.
Fairfield got off to a fast start in the first quarter as they jumped out to a 9-0 lead and forced Whiteoak head coach Blake Kibler to call a timeout less than a minute into the game. The Wildcats answered the bell after the timeout as they outscored the Lions 17-10 over the next seven minutes and only trailed by two points entering the second quarter.
Kibler talked about the slow start for his team after the game. “We sometimes play better like that when we are down. I never stress because I know that we are going to get it together. They just stayed with it and they kept grinding,” Kibler said.
In the second quarter the Wildcats turned up the defensive pressure and limited Fairfield to only nine points in the quarter. Whiteoak claimed their first lead of the game with about ten seconds to play in the half as Charlie Skinner grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a layup to get the score to 27-26 in favor of the Wildcats. On the ensuing Fairfield possession James Bentley was fouled at the buzzer and hit two free throws with no time on the clock to give the Lions a 28-27 lead at the half.
Whiteoak came out on fire in the third quarter and went on an 8-0 run to take the lead and force Fairfield head coach Josh Howland to call a timeout halfway through the third period. However, the Wildcats continued to play hard and despite a 9-8 advantage for the Lions following the timeout took a 43-37 lead into the fourth.
In the fourth quarter both teams were able to get it going as the Wildcats outscored the Lions 21-18 in the period to secure the win. The Lions fought valiantly in the fourth but they were unable to take advantage of Whiteoak’s struggles at the charity stripe and a late fast break bucket by Stephen Ross essentially ended the Lions hopes of a comeback.
Howland was very gracious after the game and praised the effort of the Wildcats after the game. “Hats off to Whiteoak, they played hard the entire game. We played hard the first half and at times in the second half. They played hard the entire game and it showed,” said Howland.
Whiteoak will be back in action on Friday in another cross-county rivalry game as they host the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs on senior night.
Fairfield will be back in action on February 2 when they travel to Peebles to take on the Indians in SHAC basketball action.
Whiteoak: T. Yeager 5-1/6-11; Skinner 2-4; Hamilton 3-4/7-10; Crowe 1(3)-0/2-11; Ross 7-14; Carr 1-2; Rand 5-2/3-12
Fairfield: Gragg 3(1)-1/1-10; Willey 2/2-2; Simmons 6-1/3-13; Ayres 8-6/7-22; Bentley 2-4/5-8
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.