CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Fairmont Senior will be making its first appearance in the Class AA boys state tournament today, but the Polar Bears are hoping to finish some business they started last season in Class AAA.
Fairmont Senior came to Charleston for the state tournament a year ago and was quickly shown the door in a 71-47 loss to eventual runner-up George Washington. This year the Bears brought back the majority of that team and have been a force to be reckoned with in their first year in Class AA.
"From a coaching standpoint I feel that I failed in having our kids ready to perform and having them ready to play [last year]. It starts with me," Fairmont Senior coach David Retton said. "As players they were hungry after the loss to GW. It's not so much to prove anything to the rest of the state, it's to prove to us. We wanted to perform better so the kids have worked extremely hard. Our approach is that the state championship game for us is [today]. We've prepared that way since the region championship."
The Polar Bears (19-6) were tabbed as the No. 2 seed in this week's tournament and will play No. 7 Scott (15-10) at 1 p.m. today. Junior Jarin Hilson and senior Travon Horton lead Fairmont Senior back into the Civic Center following sectional wins against East Fairmont and North Marion and a regional co-final win over Ritchie County.
"Their success this year had a lot to do with what they did in the off-season," Retton said. "They played a lot of basketball in AAU and worked really hard on their games.
"Jarin has really developed into a good defensive player, and sometimes that gets overlooked with his playmaking ability and his ability to read defenses. He's become a really good on-the-ball and help-side defender. Travon is scoring the ball really well for us and his ball-handling has improved. Both guys have really picked up and made improvement. They've been in Charleston before and that's been big for us."
Horton leads Fairmont Senior with 18.4 points per game while Hilson is just behind him with 16.9.
Retton also mentioned seniors DeVante Waites (12.6 points per game) and Shaquille Washington (11.4) as players who have played important roles.
"[Waites] really stepped up. He's had some big games with his defense and his shooting ability," Retton said. "Washington is close to averaging a double-double. He's done a tremendous job for us. He gives us a presence inside offensively and defensively."