SIDNEY — Fairlawn got an extra week to practice at the start of the season due to its originally scheduled opener against Fort Loramie being postponed. But even with that extra week, the Jets lost by 14 points to defending Shelby County Athletic League co-champion Anna last Friday.
The lackluster start against Anna didn’t turn into a trend, though.
Fairlawn jumped back on Saturday with a 67-39 depantsing of Triad and made it a winning streak on Tuesday by holding on to beat Botkins 64-59. The Jets will return to action on Saturday at home against Bradford (0-4).
“It’s still early in the season, and everybody will be battle tested,” Fairlawn coach Justin Tidwell said after Tuesday’s win. “I like how we’re improving so far. Our next step is to get ready for Bradford and be ready to go.”
Fairlawn lost all but two starters off last year’s 12-12 team — but those two returning starters will be great pieces for the program to build around this season and the next two years.
Sophomore guards Ashton Piper and Skyler Piper are twins and worked their way into big roles on the team last season. Ashton Piper led the squad with 11.8 points per game and averaged 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
But the Pipers were surrounded last year by an experienced group of seniors that had learned to play at a high level. That group spent its first three years with 2017 alum and SCAL all-time leading scorer Nathan Lessing on the court.
Now the Pipers are the team’s go-to scorers, and they’ve done well in the role so far.
Ashton Piper, who is 6-foot-2 and spends some time in the post, led Fairlawn with 24 points in Tuesday’s win over Botkins, including four late free throws that helped secure the win.
Skyler Piper, a shorter shooting guard, scored 23 against Botkins and led the squad with the same amount in Saturday’s win over Triad, when he also hit 9-of-9 free throws.
Ashton Piper scored 18 points against Triad and scored a team-high 23 against Anna. Skyler Piper scored 17 against the Rockets.
Through the first three games, the twins have averaged a combined 42.6 points per game — over two-thirds of the team’s average of 63 points per game.
“They’re gamers,” Fairlawn coach Justin Tidwell said of the Pipers. “They come up and they play hard, and I think high school basketball is about playing hard.
“You’ve got to give credit to our other kids, who put them in a position to get an easy post touch or set the screens to get Skyler open up top. I think the first three games for us, it’s been a complete team effort, and I can’t complain at all.”
Among those supporting players is Holman Rosales, who is the team’s main post player. He scored five points on Tuesday and had several rebounds.
“He did a nice job tonight,” Tidwell said of Rosales. “These last few games, he’s played pretty well. It’s pleasing to see a senior that’s put in all that time to have it starting to pay off.”
Fairlawn led 34-21 at halftime on Tuesday, and Skyler Piper opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to push the lead to 16 points.
But the Trojans (0-4, 0-2) fought back late, which first-year coach Sean Powell was happy to see. He wasn’t happy the team fouled a lot in the second half and sent Fairlawn to the free-throw line. The Jets made 24-of-32 foul shots while Botkins made 9-of-19.
“I think the tempo in the last quarter was where we like it at, and I think it helped us get back into the game,” Powell said. “We kept sending them to the line. …Whenever that happens, it’s hard to win a game.”
Spencer Heuker led the Trojans with 17 points while Zane Paul finished with 13 and Jacob Pleiman added 12.
“They were a physical team, and we knew that coming in,” Powell said of Botkins. “They’re strong on the boards even though they’re undersized, but we weren’t ready to stop that tonight.
“…We’re getting closer. Every day, we’re trying to improve. Tomorrow, we’ll go back to practice, look at some film and get ready for Friday.”
Sidney set for home opener against Piqua
After spending the first two weeks of the season on the road, Sidney will face archrival Piqua in its home opener on Friday.
The Indians are off to a 0-3 overall start and 0-2 start in Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division play. They lost 72-38 to Vandalia-Butler in a season opener on Nov. 30, lost by three points to Miamisburg the next night and lost 62-55 to Tippecanoe last Friday.
Piqua has given up an average of 61 points per game and scored an average of 46.3. Senior guard Qurri Tucker has averaged a team-high 12 points, while Trey Richmond has averaged 8.3 points and a team-best 7.7 rebounds.
Sidney (3-1, 2-0) has averaged 63.3 points per game and allowed an average of 53. Andre Gordon leads the team with averages of 21.3 points, 4.3 assists and 3.3 assists per game. Josiah Hudgins has averaged 8.8 points and 3.3 rebounds, while Ratez Roberts has averaged eight points, nine rebounds and 4.8 blocks.
A half-point in the Piqua vs. Sidney all-sports trophy competition will also be on the line. Entering Wednesday’s girls basketball matchup, the Yellow Jackets owned a 6-4 lead. The first team to reach 11.5 points secures the trophy.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.