NAPOLEON – If there were any questions about the Fayette boys basketball team being the third ranked team in the state in Division IV, or about if they were for real, those were answered Tuesday in the district semifinal at Napoleon.
With a suffocating defense that held Edgerton to zero second quarter points and five for the entire first half, the Eagles defeated the Bulldogs in convincing fashion, 42-26.
They will now take on Ayersville, the fourth ranked team in the division, Friday at 7 p.m. for the district championship. The Pilots defeated Holgate 41-38 in the second game.
“I’ve got a great group of kids,” said Fayette mentor Todd Mitchell. “We give them a gameplan and they buy into it. It’s five guys guarding the basketball.
“We did a good job on (Alex) Michael for three quarters. He got off a little bit there in the fourth quarter. I think we got a little winded there. But it was an outstanding effort on both ends of the court.”
Fayette got off to a quick start as Joel Smith hit a triple, Jerad Seiler added a basket inside and Tristen Bates a floater to lead 7-0 at the 4:51 mark of the opening period.
Edgerton responded with a putback basket by Alex Michael and one of two free throws, then Mitchell Cercone added a bucket in the paint around one of two from the foul line by Bates to reduce the margin to three points at the 1:32 mark.
However, Seiler hit four of four free throws down the stretch to give the Eagles a 12-5 lead after one.
The Eagles then went on to shut out the Bulldogs 13-0 in the second quarter. They did so behind eight points from Smith on two triples, and also five from Seiler.
Seiler kicked off the rally with a turnaround jumper, followed by a pull up deuce and triple for Smith to make it 19-5 nearly halfway through the quarter.
Then, after three straight points for Seiler, Smith buried a long triple with the clock running down, pumping up both himself and the crowd as Fayette led 25-5 at the break.
“We always work on trying to get the last shot in the quarter. That’s a huge momentum swing right there going into the locker room,” said Mitchell of Smith’s three. “That just gave us some cushion. The kids had a lot of confidence coming back out for the second half.”
Edgerton did finally get another field goal in the third period, however, it did not come until Jake Siebenaler’s three with 4:40 to go. Seiler and Bates opened the frame with buckets for Fayette before Michael ended the scoring drought by splitting a pair from the line.
Seiler’s bucket inside at the 2:35 mark lifted the Eagles to a 31-9 advantage after three.
“That’s our goal. We live and die for defense,” added Mitchell. “Our kids buy in, that’s the thing. It’s not one or two of them – it takes everybody who plays to buy into it. If you have one guy that gets lost then it doesn’t work.”
After Seiler split a pair of free throws with 3:12 remaining in the contest, Edgerton got a bucket from Michael and a triple from Cercone to pull within 38-24 with just over a minute left.
Michael responded to one of two foul shots from Tharyn Colegrove of Fayette with a bucket to make it just a 13-point Fayette advantage, but they could get no closer.
For the game the Eagles shot 53 percent from the field, led by Seiler who shot 60 percent (6 for 10) and finished with 18 points. Smith added 13 and Bates 7.
Michael had 14 for Edgerton while Cercone tacked on 9.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010