Following those losses to the Great Lakes Conference’s upper echelon of programs — Elyria Catholic, Holy Name and Parma — the Fairview Warriors rediscovered themselves last week by beating Normandy and, most recently, on the road at Rocky River, 66-48 Friday.
After a 14-game winning streak that vaulted them to the top of the GLC, the Warriors suffered three consecutive losses — two by a combined three points — and allowed Holy Name to nudge past them by one game in the win column.
“In our mindset, we just weren’t having fun,” Warriors senior Martin Lowry said of the rough patch. “When we’re not having fun we don’t play that good of basketball, in my mind. It could be other stuff, but that’s the main goal.”
By taking care of the Pirates, the Warriors (16-4, 12-3 GLC) gave themselves an opportunity to share the crown with the Green Wave (13-3), which wrapped up their league schedule Friday by beating Parma. If the Warriors can beat visiting Bay this Friday, they’ll secure the first-place tie.
“It is a goal of ours, to win the conference,” said Warriors senior guard Luke Howes, who scored a game-high 23 points against the Pirates. “It’s sort of out of our control now because we dropped those three games, but we’re also focusing a lot on what we want after that — making a deep run in the playoffs.”
After setting a school record for career scoring four days prior, Howes came out scorching against Rocky River (10-9, 8-7 GLC). He scored 17 points in the first half, making his first seven shots, then pieced together an all-around effort with team-highs in rebounding (7), assists (6) and steals (4). Fellow seniors Lowry (14 points) and Noah Mesaros (12 points) joined him in double figures.
Fairview dominated the first half, leading 20-6 after one quarter and building a 38-15 lead by halftime. The Warriors shot 9-for-11 in the first quarter and were 16-of-25 at the half, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range. The team dished out 17 assists shot 50% for the game.
“When we move the basketball around, we do a better job of moving it and a better job of shooting it,” Warriors coach Ryan Barry said. “People always say the ball has energy, and I never knew what that meant before I started coaching, but when it hops around and everybody touches it, it seems like we knock everything down.”
The defense did its part to fuel the offense. The Warriors caused nine Pirate turnovers in the first half, and used a combination of man-to-man pressure and roving help to make their hosts feel uncomfortable when a shot presented itself.
“I felt like we put a lot of good on-ball pressure on them, made it so they couldn’t just pass the ball around without having to think about it,” Howes said. “I think good on-ball pressure led to good help-side defense and everything was just on point tonight.”
The Pirates improved in the second half and outscored the Warriors, 33-28. But the first-half struggles were too much to overcome. With less than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Fairview led 64-38, the widest margin of the night.
“(Fairview) made shots and obviously they’re a great team,” Pirates coach Mike Murray said. “But I just didn’t like the way we turned over the ball. I thought, to start off the game like that, I think we had nine turnovers in the first and I’ll bet eight of them turned into direct layups. I know their shooting was really good at the start, but our turnovers just compounded everything.”
Tommy Ruma and Tommy Bebie led the Pirates in scoring with 16 and 12 points, respectively, and Jack Schill contributed seven points and a team-high seven rebounds off the bench.
The Warriors will tip-off against Bay at 7:30 p.m. in the teams’ regular-season finale. The Pirates will wrap up at home against John F. Kennedy, also at 7:30 p.m.
For questions about this story, call 440-871-5797.