"Defense is the heart of this program,'' added Thornton, a Martinsburg native who scored 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting and led his team with nine rebounds. "Coach stresses that every day.''
Fairmont, which has won 10 WVC tournament titles but none since 1984, has undergone a resurgence under Calhoun, a Cleveland native and University of Cincinnati graduate who worked the past four years as Bob Huggins' director of basketball operations at West Virginia.
In the biggest turnaround in school history, the Falcons have gone from last year's eight-win season to a 21-win team that's a strong contender for an NCAA Division II tournament berth. The team averages nearly 2,000 fans a game and drew 3,600 for a recent game against West Liberty.
The first-year coach brought in 13 new players, including seven freshmen, and learned much of the school's basketball tradition in a conversation with former Fairmont coach Joe Retton, who won 12 WVC regular-season and eight tournament titles in 19 seasons.
"When I took the job in April, the first thing I did was talk to Coach Retton,'' said Calhoun. "Actually, I went over to his house before I took the job. He really educated me on the program, and I did a lot of talking with people in the community. We've all been waiting for this moment. We've come together throughout the course of the year. Every game we've lost, we lost by three points, so we're as good as any team out there.''
They certainly impressed Morocco, a former Gale Catlett assistant at West Virginia.
"They're a good group of kids,'' he said, "and they're strong physically. To their tribute, they were better. Fairmont was solid, rock solid today. That's a good basketball team and I think they should be invited to the NCAA tournament whether they win here or not.''
In addition to Stith's and Thornton's scoring, Fairmont picked up 11 points off the bench from Melvin Rhodes as well as seven points and eight rebounds from Isaiah Hill.
McGlade led Seton Hill with 24 points on 6-of-9 3-point shooting.
Reach Mike Whiteford at mikewhitef...@wvgazette.com.