MIDDLETOWN — After losing three of its last four games and two straight Greater Catholic League Coed Division matchups, the Fenwick High School boys basketball team needed to get back on track.
The Falcons found exactly what they were looking for Friday night, beating GCLC rival Badin 56-45 at home.
The hosts built a five-point lead, battled back from a poor-shooting second quarter and never trailed after Dan Luers hit a halftime buzzer-beating 3-pointer that traveled three-fourths the length of the court.
FRIDAY NIGHT BASKETBALL COVERAGE
“We were coming off two straight GCL losses to (Chaminade Julienne) in double overtime here, which we played a really good game and had our chances and didn’t get it done, and then went up to Alter and they just spanked us, so we needed a good solid win,” Fenwick coach Pat Kreke said.
“I’ve been in Hamilton all my life, I’m in Badin’s Hall of Fame. Do I want to beat them? Yeah, I want to beat them, but I want Badin to win every other game besides this one all year long. I love the school. I’ve looked up to (coach) Gerry (Weisgerber) ever since he stepped into the job down there. He does a great job. I just think our kids came out and from start to finish played really well at both ends of the floor.”
Badin (10-3, 3-3 GCLC Central) struggled to knock down shots in the first quarter against Fenwick’s zone defense, but better ball movement opened opportunities in the second quarter and forced Fenwick (8-4, 3-3 GCLC North) to switch to man defense. The Rams took advantage with a 13-3 run to open the stanza.
Six straight points from Spencer Giesting to cap that stretch gave Badin a five-point lead, and then the teams traded 5-0 runs to end the half. Luers scored with just under a minute left to make it a three-point game and then tied it up at 25 after grabbing a long rebound and launching his stunning buzzer beater.
“It was big,” Kreke said. “It’s always a momentum thing any time you hit a shot like that. We had struggled scoring in the second quarter and then we got it to within three, and you think going into halftime that’s not too bad. But going in tied and having that shot there was huge.”
The Rams got the ball to start the second half, but Fenwick was the first to score — three minutes in — as Jared Morris put the Falcons ahead for good while sparking a 9-2 run.
Badin sent Fenwick to the line 11 times in the second half, and the Falcons finished 21-of-25 on free throws.
“We had a chance to get the lead back right away to start the second half, and we didn’t take it,” Weisgerber said. “Once they got the lead, they handled it and knocked down their foul shots when they needed to.”
Fenwick also overcame losing starter A.J. Braun for big stretches after he picked up his third foul on a charge in the second quarter. He didn’t play at all in the third period, but Kreke was happy with how the other players stepped up. The Falcons had their best week of practice leading up to the game, and he said the hard work showed.
C.J. Napier finished with a game-high 15 points, including going 9-of-13 at the line. Morris added 12 points and Luers chipped in 10.
Badin was led by Justin Pappas, who had 12 points, and Nathan Hegemann, who contributed 10 points.
“We just didn’t play well,” Weisgerber said. “I didn’t coach well, we didn’t play that well. I’ve got to give credit to Fenwick — they did exactly what they needed to do to beat us. They played zone and we couldn’t knock down shots, and then we put them on the foul line. They are very good at that.”
Fenwick was scheduled to host Clinton-Massie on Saturday night, but the game was postponed until Feb. 18. On Tuesday, the Falcons will meet visiting Reading and Badin will be at home against Springboro.
BADIN (10-3, 3-3 GCLC Central): Joseph Walsh 2 0 5; Seth Hargis 2 1 6; Nathan Hegemann 4 2 10; Donovan Watkins 1 0 2; Zach Switzer 0 2 2; Spencer Giesting 2 1 6; Justin Pappas 5 1 12; Josh Hegemann 1 0 2. Totals: 17-7-45
FENWICK (8-4, 3-3 GCLC North): Caleb Davis 1 2 4; Jared Morris 3 6 12; Thomas Vogelsang 2 2 7; A.J. Braun 3 2 8; C.J. Napier 3 9 15; Dan Luers 4 0 10. Totals: 16-21-56
3-pointers: B 4 (Walsh, Hargis, Giesting, Pappas), F 3 (Luers 2, Vogelsang)