BEAVERCREEK — Beavercreek girls basketball coach Ed Zink isn’t one to celebrate a loss.
But the veteran mentor won’t be pulling out his hair after dropping a 41-29 game to Fairmont in Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division play on Wednesday.
Down by as many as 21 points, late in the third period, the Lady Beavers showed some much-needed moxie in battling the defending Division I state champions to the end.
“I told our kids I was proud of their effort,” Zink said. “I don’t like losing. They improved over their last game (against Fairmont).”
Beavercreek had lost 59-38 to the Lady Firebirds just a few weeks ago. In that one, they were literally run out of Trent Arena as Fairmont had a plethora of fast-break buckets. On Wednesday, those opportunities were limited. And Beavercreek’s 2-3 zone proved tough to crack as well.
But what cost the Lady Beavers (12-6, 4-3 GWOC) this time was pretty much what has plagued them all season, ball control and shooting. The Beavers made just 10 baskets while turning the ball over 23 times.
“Too many turnovers,” Zink said. “A couple times, we threw it right to them. Awful lot of unforced errors. (And) too many missed open shots.”
Maddi Shannon led Beavercreek with eight points while Kayla Shields had seven and Jennifer Chaltry, starting for an injured Natalie Knight, added six. Notre Dame-bound Kathryn Westbeld led Fairmont (17-2, 6-1) with 20 points.
Fairmont tried to end the game early as Westbeld put on a clinic scoring 12 in the first quarter to help Fairmont built a 17-7 lead after one. Beavercreek committed eight turnovers in the first quarter and then seven more in the second quarter (most unforced) as the Fairmont lead reached 21-7 with 6:32 left.
With twin towers Makayla Waterman and Westbeld resting on the bench, Beavercreek chipped away and trailed 23-11 at halftime, despite making just five baskets and one free throw.
Fairmont seemed to blow it open in the third quarter with an 11-3 run to start. Beavercreek’s only points during that five-minute span came on free throws.
The lead reached 36-15 before the Lady Beavers went on a 10-0 run to end the third and start the fourth. A 3-pointer by Shields and a jumper at the buzzer by Shannon closed the third and then a Chaltry fast-break bucket and a 3-pointer by Shannon cut the lead to 36-25 with 4:52 left in the fourth.
But Fairmont answered with a 15-4 run to secure victory.
Zink got a nice glimpse of the future as 6-foot-1 sophomore Alexa Low logged some quality minutes for the first time, going up against the Firebirds bigs inside the 2-3 zone. She scored two points, forced a turnover and and grabbed a rebound.
“We felt we had to find some height,” Zink said. “She held her own.”
With a GWOC division title pretty much out of reach, Beavercreek can now set its sights on prepping for the upcoming tournament. Some great tune-up games await with a game Saturday at Springfield, and then Monday at Bellbrook, before ending the regular season with home games against Wayne and Centerville.