LEBANON — C.J. Napier erased the very real possibility of a lost weekend for Fenwick High School’s boys basketball team.
The senior forward had 20 points and seven rebounds at Lebanon, sinking two free throws with 3.7 seconds remaining as the Falcons won 44-43.
Fenwick’s Friday night ended with a 52-46 Greater Catholic League Coed Division loss at Purcell Marian, so the nonconference trip to Lebanon grew a bit in importance.
BOYS BASKETBALL COVERAGE
“We lost a tough one last night, but we can’t lose a weekend,” Napier said. “It’s a good win because it keeps us in the right direction. A good team is able to come into someone else’s place and win, especially on a Saturday. We were a little tired throughout the game, but we stuck it out.”
The Warriors had taken a 43-41 lead with 1:01 left on a driving reverse layup by Alex Martin. Napier made 1-of-2 free throws with 20.5 seconds remaining, and a Jared Morris steal led to Napier being on the line again with 3.7 on the clock.
“It was just like practice,” Napier said. “I shot 50 to 100 today because I missed a couple last night too. I didn’t think about that at all. I just shot it, and they both felt good.”
Falcons coach Pat Kreke said he felt confident with the game and Napier on the line.
“He’s a great free-throw shooter,” Kreke said. “He has struggled a little bit this year, but he’s our leader. I still wouldn’t want anybody else out there.”
A.J. Braun tallied 15 points and five rebounds for Fenwick (4-1), and Morris had five points and three steals. The visitors won with defense in the second half because they had to — they shot just 27.8 percent from the floor in the last two periods.
“I loved our defense in the second half,” Kreke said. “I know we were exhausted from last night and the pressure that Purcell puts on you. That’s a lot of wear and tear.
“I think we made some great adjustments at halftime tonight, going with the 1-2-2 zone and then doing some denial on the big kid (Zach Huffman). We did a better job of being in their face and identifying where their shooters were.”
That kind of defensive focus was needed against a Lebanon squad that drilled eight 3-pointers in the first half, taking a 30-26 lead into intermission. After the break, the Warriors were 1-of-10 from behind the arc.
“We came out with tired legs in the second half,” Lebanon coach Nathan Chivington said. “We didn’t get our legs behind our shots and our shots weren’t falling, so we tried to get something to the hoop. The guys were battling all night. If you can hold a team to 44 points, you’d like to think it’s going to be a good night.”
Huffman had 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Warriors (3-3), who are 2-0 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference National West Division. Their three defeats have come by a total of 10 points.
“We’re learning tough lessons … at least we’re learning them outside the conference,” said Chivington, in his first season at the Lebanon helm. “We’re playing close in every single game. You’d rather be on the winning side of it, but our guys are going to be better for it. I think we’re going to be a dangerous team.”
Both teams resume league play Friday, the Falcons at home against Carroll and the Warriors at Miamisburg.
FENWICK (4-1): Jared Morris 2 0 5; A.J. Braun 5 4 15; C.J. Napier 6 6 20; Dan Luers 1 0 3; Thomas Vogelsang 0 1 1. Totals: 14-11-44
LEBANON (3-3): Milo White 3 0 6; Sam Stotts 2 0 6; Zach Huffman 5 0 13; Luke Arnold 3 0 8; Nick Lang 1 0 3; Zach Weber 2 0 5; Alex Martin 1 0 2. Totals: 17-0-43
3-pointers: F 5 (Napier 2, Luers, Braun, Morris), L 9 (Huffman 3, Stotts 2, Arnold 2, Weber, Lang)
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