Instead of Dasher and Dancer and Comet and Vixen, it was more like Whiteside and Wyatt and Lerma and Frenn.
Instead of the Rudolph-led reindeer hoisting a sleigh full of presents, it was the aforementioned Eagles who played key roles in giving Fayette’s Todd Mitchell a pre-Christmas gift with a 59-55 win over North Central in boys basketball Thursday night.
The win elevated Fayette to 6-1 on the season.
“It’s a good win, we’re 6-1 at Christmas,” expressed Coach Mitchell. “Makes all of us happy campers.”
Frenn and Lerma, as in Kaden and Elijah, combined for nine first quarter points to give Fayette a slim 15-14 lead at the break.
That lead was still a single point when Whiteside, as in Demetrius, jumped started a stalled Eagle offense midway in the second.
His corner triple at the 4:42 mark boosted the Fayette advantage to four.
Collin Patten answered right back with a long range bomb to chop the lead back, but Quinn Mitchell found Whiteside inside to get Fayette back up 24-21.
Patten hit his second triple of the quarter and his 10th point of the stanza to bring North Central even at the half, 24-24.
Mitchell canned a left wing triple and Skylar Lester scored from Lerma to give Fayette the lead at 29-24 a minute into the third, but just that quick, Ben Pettit and Zach Hayes’ triples within 43 seconds brought North Central back over the top to a 30-29 lead.
Lerma’s run to the rim with 1:12 to go put Fayette up 34-32 but Hayes bagged a pair from the line to knot the game heading into the fourth.
Frenn found Wyatt, as in Mitchell, on an out-of-bounds play then Lerma went one-on-one twice to put Fayette up six at 40-34.
Again North Central fought back to tie, 42-42, on Landon Justice’s pair from the line with 4:06 to go.
After Lerma again went solo for a score to regain a Fayette lead, Whiteside hit two from the line and scored a three-point play from Frenn for the Eagles’ biggest advantage at 49-42 with three minutes left.
“They started pressing us a little more in the fourth,” explained Mitchell. “It took us a couple possessions to get organized and get the spots where we were supposed to be at. Once we attacked the floor with balance we were sharing the ball and finding the open guy and made some key shots.
“(Whiteside) has been our best on-ball defender all year long. He has been struggling scoring this year and tonight was great to see. He works his butt off and it’s great to see him get some offense going.”
One more time North Central came back.
With Fayette going 1-2 at the line four straight times, Hayes hit a baseline jumper, 2-2 from the stripe, one triple off the glass with 33 seconds left, then another with 18 ticks to go to force a 55-55 tie.
Lerma was fouled going to the rim, and this time the senior guard banged home both shots.
North Central had one more chance but went to neither Hayes, Pettit or Patten.
Justice, who hadn’t hit a field goal the entire game was the choice, but his open triple from the head of the key was offline.
Wyatt Mitchell was fouled with 4.1 left and nailed both shots to give Fayette a four point lead.
Lerma had 25 points to lead the Eagles while Whiteside added 12 off the bench.
Hayes had 20 and Patten 12 for North Central.
Fayette is off until Monday, Jan. 3 when they travel to Morenci for a non-league game.