PIQUA — A strong inside game helped Fairlawn beat Triad 58-45 in a Division IV sectional quarterfinal at Piqua’s Garbry Gymnasium on Friday.
Drew Brautigam led Fairlawn with 19 points while freshman guards Ashton Piper and Skyler Piper scored 11.
Brautigam had eight rebounds to lead Fairlawn’s strong effort on the boards. The Jets, which are the No. 5 seed in the sectional, outrebounded the No. 3 seed Cardinals 34-21.
“That’s been one of our preaching points all year, making sure that we win the rebounding battle,” Fairlawn coach Justin Tidwell said. “We had to pound it down there today, because we felt like we stronger in the interior than they were.”
Fairlawn (12-11) lost at Triad 57-42 on Dec. 9. The loss was one during a 3-7 start to the season for the Jets, who have won five of their last seven.
“We struggled offensively in that first one,” Tidwell said. “It was third game of the year, and at that point we didn’t really know what our identity is. You’ve got to give our kids credit. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves through 22 games, and we got to this point and know who we are. We were able to execute and do what we do.”
Fairlawn (12-11) advances to face Jackson Center in a sectional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Piqua. The Tigers beat Missisinawa Valley 47-21 in a sectional quarterfinal on Friday and beat Fairlawn by eight and 15 points in two Shelby County Athletic League games in regular season.
“It will take a relentless effort against (Jackson Center’s) defense,” Tidwell said. “Give Jackson credit. They just grind you out with really good defense in halfcourt set. They’re really sound offensively, and when you make a mistake they punish you. To get good offensive execution against Jackson, we’re going to have to be patient and take what they give us.”
The Jets took a 29-19 lead over Triad by halftime and led 44-37 with 2:38 left in the fourth. Triad had the gap at eight points with about two minutes left in the first, but Fairlawn went on a 4-1 run to push the lead to double digits. Ashton Piper then added two layups on inbounds plays in the final minute to help Fairlawn secure the win.
“At no moment was I comfortable with the way (Triad) can shoot the ball,” Tidwell said. “… Those are big layups for a freshman that (Ashton) made. Granted there’s nobody around, but I’ve seen it before in tournament where they’d roll around and pop out. You’ve got to give credit for our guys up front that set a nice screen for him to be able to get open and for Stephen (Blanford) for making that long pass to him.”
The Jets will try to keep their postseason run going against Jackson Center, but Tidwell said he’s already proud of the team for its turnaround in the second half of the season.
“When we were 3-7, everybody was kind of down and hanging their head,” Tidwell said. “Having a great second half of the year and getting down here and getting a tournament win is exciting.”
Hadley LeVan led Triad with 29 points The Cardinals finish 15-8 overall.
Trevor Instine made a basket with 1:04 left in the first quarter to pull Triad within 9-8 but Ashton Piper made a basket with 45 seconds left to boost the lead to 11-8.
Skyler Piper made three 3-pointers in the second quarter (the last two in the final 90 seconds) to help the Jets take a 10-point halftime lead.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.