Fayette pulled away to a minimal but sound lead in the early minutes of the fourth quarter, then their defense clamped down to thwart a furious Edgerton rally in the waning moments for a 49-47 victory in boys basketball Tuesday night.
The win came on the Eagles’ Senior Night where they honored Eli Eberly, Tanner Wagner, Jalen Suarez, Phillip Whiteside and Tyrese Pearson.
“The seniors gave us a good night,” said veteran head coach Todd Mitchell. “Tyrese Pearson got his first start as a varsity player and he gave us good minutes — out there hustling like he always does. Proud of the seniors and hopefully we can keep it going. This should help us, hopefully, tournament draw time maybe with another win against a good GMC (Green Meadows Conference) team.”
Wagner split a pair of free throws with 20 seconds to go that gave Fayette a two-point edge. The visiting Bulldogs had several cracks at the hoop in an attempt to tie, but failed to connect on any.
“Our under-the-basket defense was really good,” noted Mitchell. “The kids did a good job of defending the basket on that. We made them catch the ball going away from the basket and we got a deflection the one time. The last time they had it (there) was 2.3 seconds and we got another tip ball. The name of the game was the defense at the end there.”
The Eagles were able to build their lead by way of an 8-2 spurt in the middle of the third period.
Edgerton knotted the score at 25 on Gannon Ripke’s bucket at the 4:37 mark. However, Fayette responded as Wagner used the glass on his jump shot for a score and Elijah Lerma converted a drive to the basket. Ripke scored again for the Bulldogs but missed the chance at a three-point play, then Kaden Frenn and Demetrius Whiteside each converted drives to the hoop for Fayette to make it a 33-27 lead with 2:34 left.
The Eagles would up their lead to seven (39-32) just 1:19 into the fourth thanks to a couple of Lerma free throws. The margin stayed the same with 6:05 remaining when Noah Landel and Lerma traded baskets.
Lerma tied for the game-high with Wagner, each recording 17 points. “It’s hard to guard him one-on-one,” said Mitchell of Lerma. “He’s driving in there drawing help, then he kicks it out to his teammates and then it makes everything else open up for us. Pressure doesn’t rattle him too much so it’s good to have him on the court.”
A pair of 3-pointers by Edgerton’s Cole Meyer, one a shot from the top of the key and another the old-fashioned way, helped the Dogs get back within one, 46-45, with still over two minutes to play.
Phillip Whiteside and Eberly each split a pair from the foul line for Fayette, as did Troy Wolfe for Edgerton to make it a 48-46 game with 54 ticks to go. The final points were from Meyer and Wagner, each also splitting at the line for their respective teams.
The Edgerton defense was pressure-packed and at times gave the Eagles fits, but for the most part they were able to stay composed — most notably at key moments in the second half.
“I think we had 13 turnovers which is a few too many. But their pressure defense, you got to give them credit, they had us rattled a few times. We saw that Saturday night against Liberty Center as well (a 63-49 loss), and I thought we responded a little better tonight against it (the pressure),” said Mitchell.
The two squads played a tight first quarter that saw the Eagles tie it at 11 on Lerma’s jumper near the foul line with a second to go.
Corey Everetts’ floater gave the Dogs a two-point edge 35 seconds into the second period, but the Eagles quickly tied it on Lerma’s spin move inside for a score.
They then went on a 7-0 run starting with a Wagner corner triple, Frenn’s deuce in the paint, plus a Lerma fastbreak hoop for a 20-13 edge just north of the halfway mark. The Eagles maintained their distance for almost the rest of the half, however, Edgerton was able to pull within 23-20 at the break on Craig Blue’s 3-pointer.
Blue finished with 16 points for Edgerton (7-7), while Meyer and Everetts each added nine.
Fayette (7-7) is back home Friday where they will host North Central (4-11), then they travel to Eastwood on Saturday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.