Hornets find own bond, win first title in 36 years
FAIRMONT HEIGHTS 65, EDMONDSON-WESTSIDE 52
The shock had not yet worn off from Fairmont Heights’ first state championship win in 36 years, but Coach Chuck Henry was trying to put everything in perspective Saturday afternoon.
He thought back to Feb. 18, when the Hornets honored that 1981 state championship team, and how two hours later the old teammates were still out in the parking lot joking and reminiscing. Henry wanted that for his Hornets.
“Many of them won’t go on to college to play basketball, but the memories that we build, and the bonds that we build is more important than anything in the world,” Henry said. “I always tell the guys, ‘It’s not about you. It’s about the people around you.’ ”
As the buzzer sounded on Fairmont Heights’ 65-52 win over Edmondson-Westside in the Maryland 1A state final at Xfinity Center, the Hornets players crowded together and bounced at center court.
Edmondson-Westside (16-6) led by nine in the first quarter, but Fairmont Heights rode stingy defense and hot shooting to a history-making afternoon in front of a swarm of maroon-clad supporters.
Henry “will be like, ‘Fairmont, we got to build the legacy back. We going to be the team that put Fairmont back on the map,’ ” said Yearlando Reed, who finished with a team-high 17 points. “And we did it today.”
It took some time for the Hornets to get rolling. They shot 1 for 6 from three-point range in the first quarter and at one point trailed 10-1.
Reed led the charge back. He tied the score at 21 with a three-pointer early in the second, and Fairmont Heights (17-8) trailed just 30-28 at halftime.
Defensively, the Hornets forced turnovers with a full-court press and forced difficult shots by packing the paint. They dared the Red Storm to take jumpers, and the gamble paid off as the momentum shifted in the third quarter.
But a win would not come easily — not after 36 years of waiting. Guard Darren Lucas-White, who recorded 15 points and four steals, came down hard after charging the paint.
He held on to his right wrist and was helped to the bench, a scowl stretching across his face. As LucasWhite slogged to the back for medical attention with his gaze fixed downward, Reed stepped into a threepointer to put Fairmont Heights up 41-38.
Reed earned praise from Henry for his attitude despite coming off the bench.
The junior knocked down another long ball in the game’s final minutes, essentially putting the game out of reach.
After addressing the media, Reed stood in an Xfinity Center hallway with a gold medal dangling from his neck. He looked down at the game ball in his hands.
“This is a state championship,” Reed said. “We get a ring. We get banners. This is love.”