After opening the season with three road contests, the Oberlin boys basketball squad was happy to be home Friday and playing before the local faithful.
While both the Oberlin freshmen and junior varsity teams claimed victory, the varsity team suffered a 58-55 overtime loss to Fairview Park.
From the opening tip, Fairview jumped ahead and maintained a steady — if narrow — lead throughout the first half. The Warriors held the Phoenix at bay largely on their success from long range, where they buried seven three-pointers to account for 21 of their 28 first half points.
The Phoenix stayed close, using 18 points from the senior duo of Justin Smith and Devan Yarber to reach halftime down 28-24.
Coach Kurt Russell’s team returned from the break to have its best quarter of the night from beyond the arc, connecting on four bombs — two from sophomore Giles Harrell III and one each from Yarber and freshman Trajen Chambers. The two teams entered the fourth quarter at 46-43.
It wasn’t until the final stanza that the Warriors sharpshooters began regularly missing their mark, allowing the Phoenix to not just tie the game but take a lead into the final minute on the strength of another Smith layup and a Chambers three.
Yet Oberlin didn’t capitalize on free throws, converting only two of six in the final minutes (nine-for-19 overall) from the charity stripe. Fairview pulled even at 52 with a minute to play, and despite opportunities at both ends in the final seconds, the game headed to overtime.
In the bonus period, the visitors jumped out to a four-point edge in the first minute before Smith closed the gap to 56-55 with a three-point play off a runner in the lane.
But the Phoenix could not find the equalizer in the final frantic seconds. Two late free throws delivered the Warriors a 58-55 win.
While Russell was disappointed with the loss, he was upbeat on his team’s ability to come back after being down much of the game. “
You know, we ask a lot of our two seniors (Smith and Yarber). They play 30 minutes or more each night and they are really working the entire time,” he said. “It’s an excellent role model for our young team to see the leaders working hard every minute, and it’s credit to them that they could exhort our young guns to make it all the way back and force overtime.”
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