By Brian Lacy
For The Times
In a matchup of contrasting styles, Fairview used its size to overpower a speedy St. Clair County squad 66-43 on Friday night in the Class 4A, Area 13 semifinals.
Aggie center Blake Parker scored a game-high 20 points and Elijah Garrison added 14, sending Fairview into the area championship game Monday night against Oneonta, a 54-44 winner over Locust Fork in the other semifinal.
Fairview coach Greg Boatright said the gameplan was to work the ball inside against the Saints' shorter players. The plan worked, as the Aggies scored 44 points inside the paint.
“We took advantage of some mismatches,” Boatright said. “I thought we recognized that pretty well, and we played together better than we have in the last week or so. Basketball is a team sport, and I’ve got a good group of guys that buy into playing together.”
St. Clair County started the game on a hot streak, scoring on five of their first six possessions, but the Aggies kept pace, tying the game 10-10 on a Peter Kessler layup with 3:57 left in the first quarter. A 3-pointer by Parker gave Fairview the lead for good with 2:56 left in the opening period and sparked a 15-2 run over the next seven minutes. The Aggies outscored the Saints 18-6 in the second quarter to take a 35-20 halftime lead.
“St. Clair came out red hot, but we stuck with it,” Boatright said. “We started defending a little better and executed on the offensive end.”
The outcome was never in doubt throughout the second half as the Aggies extended their advantage to 47-31 after three quarters, and the margin swelled to 20 points midway through the final period.
Kessler finished with nine points, Luke Bailey scored eight and Andy Hendrix added seven. St. Clair County was led by Joshua Hardick’s 12 points, while Matthew Hicks and Juan Montgomery both scored 10.
The victory was another step in the right direction for the Aggies, who have won two in a row to end a three-game losing streak that started after winning the Cullman County Tournament.
“That’s the way basketball is,” Boatright said. “It’s a long season. You play a lot of back-to-back nights, and you’re going to have some lulls during the year. Thank goodness ours was last week, not the week before, and I hope it’s not this week or next week or any other week for the rest of the year because it won’t get anything but tougher from here on out.”
Fairview and Oneonta split their regular-season meetings, and Boatright said Monday night’s area championship game should be another tough test.
“We’re really going to have to play,” Boatright said. "They’re big inside and physical, and they can play inside or out. They whipped us down there, and we got them here, but those two games don’t mean much right now.”