The visiting Bears from West Branch — ranked 11th in Class 2A — used a 20-5 third quarter advantage to down Fairfield 52-37 in boys basketball action Monday night in Fairfield. Fairfield trailed only 24-20 at the break but couldn’t overcome the poor third eight minutes.
Spencer Peterman opened the scoring for a quick 2-0 Trojan lead. His second early basket pulled Fairfield into a tie at six with under two minutes to go in the opening quarter. West Branch led 10-6 after one.
The Bears used a 2-3 zone effectively for most of the opening half.
“They play the zone so well because the perimeter guys know they have the big guy behind them to cover up for any mistakes,” said Fairfield coach Tyler Miklo.
Two baskets by Mike Gould pushed the visitors’ lead to 18-9. Four straight free throws by the Trojans, two each by Peterman and Darrin Dimmitt cut the lead to 18-13.
Six-foot-8-inch Rylan Murry, the aforementioned big guy, then scored three straight baskets to give the Bears a 24-17 lead with just under a minute to play. Dimmitt added a late 3 to cut the lead to four at the half.
“We did some good things being deliberate in the first half,” said Miklo. “We didn’t force the ball and we got some ball reversal.”
The disastrous third opened with a Bear 3 but that was answered with a basket by Trojan Vincent Horras. Horras would have a game high 11 for the Trojans.
The Bears went on a 14-0 run to put the game away. West Branch came out using the 6-8 Murry at the point. That led to some different looks for the visitors and they used six assists that led to scores in the run.
“The different look hurt us some but we gave them some second chance baskets too,” added Miklo.
The big run included two 3s by Mason Hays and 10 points for Murry. Murry’s last basket was a 3 with just three seconds to play in the third.
The final quarter started well enough for the Trojans. Horras had a personal 5-0 run to make the score 44-30. Matt Carr scored and the Trojans were within 12.
The Trojan defense stiffened and held the Bears scoreless for the first five minutes of the fourth. In fact, Murry didn’t add to his 20 points in the final eight minuutes.
“I think we wore him down some,” said Miklo.
The problem was that Fairfield would have a five-minute drought of their own after the Carr score. The Trojans cut the lead to 11 at 48-37 but couldn’t dig out of the hole they put themselves in.
“Their zone is really tough late because if you don’t knock down shots from the outside, you just can’t close the gap,” Miklo said.
The Bears scored the final four points to close out the 52-37 win.
The loss to the Class 2A 11th-ranked Bears drops the Trojans to 1-5. Fairfield is scheduled to host Keokuk on Thursday.
West Branch 52, Fairfield 37
WB 10 14 20 8 — 52
FF 6 14 5 12 — 37
West Branch (52) —Hays 10, Murry 20, Lucas Lamont 7, Gould 6, Branden Shortt 2, Cole Cook 7 . Totals 20-53 8-14 52.
3-point goals — 4-15 (Hays 2, Lamont, Murry). Fouled out —none . Rebounds — 33 (Murry 12). Assists — 14 (Cook 5). Steals —12 (Cook 5). Blocks — 4 (Murry 4). Total fouls — NA. Turnovers — 10.
Fairfield (37) — Carr 3, Dimmitt 6, Horras 11, Jordan Reid 2, Peterman 8, Joseph Heitpas 3, Landon Gamrath 2, Kyle Weirup 2 . Totals 14-41 6-8 37.
3-point goals — 3-12 (Carr, Dimmitt, Hietpas). Fouled out —none . Rebounds — 26 (Peterman 8). Assists — 8 (Reid 2). Steals — 4 (Hietpas 2). Blocks — 1 (Horras). Total fouls — NA. Turnovers — 16.