CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Maybe it just took the calendar flipping to March for the madness to finally arrive in the West Virginia Conference tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.
After the first day of the men's tournament at the Charleston Civic Center didn't offer much in terms of drama, the first semifinal game on Friday more than made up for the slow start as No. 2 Fairmont State punched a ticket into today's finals with a 75-74 overtime win over No. 3 Alderson-Broaddus.
The WVC's seventh-leading scorer, Fairmont's Isaac Thornton, was late arriving to the party but sure showed up when it counted, knocking down a game-winning foul shot with .9 seconds left in the extra frame after A-B's Malcolm Tatum missed a free throw that could've put the Battlers ahead with just 6.7 ticks left.
"The whole game, I had a bad game and I got in early foul trouble," Thornton said. "I just wanted to make up for it and come through for my team. It was a blessing [when the foul shot went through]."
After Tatum's miss, Thornton took off toward the hoop and a blocking call was charged on A-B's Richard Lemon as Thornton put up a wild shot in the lane.
Thornton, Fairmont State's leading scorer at 17.8 points per game, spent much of the first half in foul trouble and didn't score in the opening 20 minutes.
But as a result of his 14 points through the second half and overtime, Fairmont will be throwing its own little 1980s party after clinching its first WVC title game berth since 1985.
While the Falcons were soaring to heights they haven't reached in nearly 30 years, at least one man in the arena was unsure about the validity of the final, deciding whistle.
"I'm not very pleased at all," Battlers coach Greg Zimmerman said. "I'm ticked off. What should I tell my kids in the locker room? You're going to make a call with .9 seconds left on a loose ball? Let the players decide the game, that's all I say. You play that hard, that long - I've got kids crying in the locker room, what am I supposed to tell them? I just want a fair deal and don't think we got it."
Alderson-Broaddus (20-9) lived up to its Battler moniker and then some as it fought back from deficits throughout the second half until claiming its first lead on a 3-pointer from Casey Ainslie with 2:01 remaining in the game.