Coming into the 2015-16 season, the West Union Dragons boys’ varsity squad knew there would be growing pains with a roster filled with underclassmen. Up to this point, the West Union boys have picked up just a single win and the struggles continued last Friday night when the Dragons hosted the Fairfield Lions in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play.
As has been the case in many of their outings this season, the Dragons played a very competitive first quarter and then began to fade and the Lions eventually pulled away for the 77-52 win.
“This is one we needed,” said Fairfield head coach Everett Snyder. “On the road, we needed a good start.”
“I think we are still getting better,” said West Union head coach Josh White. “We have moments that demonstrate that there are obvious improvements, but we are still working on putting a complete game together.”
“That will come with time and experience, which we are gaining every day.”
The contest was close early with West Union taking an 8-7 lead in the first quarter after back to back baseline jumpers from D.J. Welch and Eli Fuller and after Fairfield’s Ethan Putnam hit a three to put the Lions back on top, the Dragons went back in front when Garrett Vogler matched Putnam with his own bulls eye from beyond the arc.
The Lions scored the next six, four of them from the free throw line, where they hit 32 of 39 for the game, but a basket by Andrew Weeks late in the quarter kept the Dragons close, trailing just 16-13 after eight minutes.
That “closeness” faded quickly as the second period began when the Lions went on a 7-0 run, fueled by a second Putnam three-pointer. Now down 10, Coach White called a timeout, but after that break, Putnam hit four free throws to give Fairfield a 27-15 advantage. Craig Horton hit a three for the Dragons but that was quickly match by a trey from the Lions’ Putnam, who was on his way to a 21-point first half.
Fairfield finished the half on a 8-0 run that included a Jensen Daulton three-pointer and at the intermission, it was the Lions doubling up on the home team, leading 38-19.
The first half on Friday night was played pretty rapidly, but that was not the case for the second half that was bogged down with fouls and frequent trips to the charity stripe. The third period began well for the Dragons, though, as they came out with some fire and scored the first eight points, getting two baskets from Horton, two Fuller free throws, and a bucket by Vogler to suddenly infuse the crowd and pull within 38-27.
The Lions recovered after Coach Snyder used two timeouts, to answer with their own run of 12-2, with half of those scores coming from the foul line. Another Putnam three made it 53-31 as the visitors continued to pull away. A “basket and one” from Vogler preceded the Lions scoring the final six points of the period to lead 62-38 after three.
While Fairfield spent a good majority of the final eight minutes at the free throw line, the Dragons got baskets from Vogler and Conner Campbell, plus a Campbell three-point goal. Campbell hit three from the line in the final minute for the last West Union points of the night, as the visiting Lions rolled to the 77-52 victory.
Even on an unfamiliar court, the Lions had no problems shooting the ball in the win, going 45% from the field and 82% from the free throw line. Fairfield was led by 24 points from Ethan Putnam, who also was a perfect 10 for 10 from the free throw line. Wyatt Evans also reached double figures with 16, while Jensen Daulton added 14.
“We have worked hard on our free throw shooting,” added Coach Snyder. “We spend a lot of time each day in the gym at the free throw line.”
West Union was paced by 11 points apiece from Craig Horton and Garrett Vogler, with Conner Campbell and Eli Fuller adding 8 each.
FHS 16 22 24 15 —77
WUHS 13 6 19 14 —52
FHS (77): Putnam 24, Evans 16, harris 4, Daulton 14, Walker 3, Cain 2, J. Current 4, T. Current 4, Fraley 6
WUHS (52): Vogler 11, Horton 11, Campbell 8, Madden 2, Welch 4, Weeks 5, Fuller 8, Mullenix 2, Fenton 1