Fairview's Hunter Dowies goes up for a shot against Florien's Tyler Ryals during the second quarter of a Class B semifinal Wednesday at Burton Coliseum. Dowies scored 25 points. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, March 13, 2014 2:57 PMFor the first time in school history, the Fairview Panthers have a shot at tasting what the Lady Panthers have grown accustomed to.
With their 60-56 win over top-seeded Florien Wednesday night, the Panthers earned their first trip to the Class B state championship after losing in the semifinals in their first seven tries.
They will meet Midland at 6 p.m. Friday for the title.
“I was so happy for the girls when they got their state championship last week, and all I can think about it getting that feeling for ourselves,” said sophomore forward Brennan Maddox, whose sister is on the girls team.
Booking their ticket to the big dance was no easy task for the Panthers (31-5), however, as the Blackcats (42-4) forced them into an up-tempo game.
“I am just very excited for my kids,” said Fairview head coach Ron Stark. “They have been through a lot playing a tough schedule and a very good Florien team today. We just kept battling and battling.”
The Panthers started off hot, using a 12-2 run midway through the opening quarter, but the Blackcats responded with a big end to the first 8 minutes to cut the lead to 16-14 at the break.
Fairview retook the momentum early in the second quarter, but a plethora of missed free throws kept them from jumping out to a large lead. Florien quickly responded with a 13-3 run that put it back on top. They led 33-32 at the half.
The Blackcats carried that momentum into the second half when they started with an 11-2 run, forcing Fairview to try and play catch up the entire quarter. However, in one of the game’s many momentum swings, the Panthers rallied late in the third and tied the score at 44-44 behind a Maddox layup at the buzzer.
Fairview parlayed that strong finish to a quick start in the fourth quarter when junior Payton Gordon gave the Panthers the lead behind a strong drive to the basket making it 48-47 before Grant Dowies buried two deep 3-pointers in rapid succession to make it a seven-point lead.
“It felt great,” Dowies said. “I got hot at the right time and I felt like as long as I got the ball up it was going to go in.”
The Blackcats made several attempts to mount a comeback, but a pair of Gordon free throws with 9.6 seconds remaining put the game out of reach.
“We were out of sync most of the night and Fairview was just really physical,” said Florien head coach Klifford Walker. “We knew they could shoot and we still let them hit some really big shots.”
Dowies led Fairview with 25 points while Maddox added 18 points and 16 rebounds for his 35th double-double of the season.
Leading the way for Florien was junior guard Keaton Booker with 22 points and seven steals.