Fairmont closes event with win over Woodward

“Really, it limited Paul McMillan, which made everything difficult for him,” Doucet said. “We wanted to keep someone in his face at all times and just be in the back and have someone waiting for him and not let him do easy drives straight to the rim.”

McMillan was limited to 19 points on 9 of 17 shooting and left the game late with a lower leg injury. But before the injury, McMillan put in the kind of explosive back-to-back drives that scared Firebirds coach Kenny Molz. Those two plays cut a Fairmont lead that was 19 at 39-34 in the first minute of the fourth quarter.

“He’s explosive and even though we contained him for the game, all it takes is a bit of lack of focus and missing a mission,” Molz said. “He’s so good he’ll make you pay.”

Giving big leads has been a recurring problem for the Firebirds, especially in a 57-55 win at Northmont on Friday.

“We just have to learn how to deal with success,” Molz said. “They play so hard to get a lead and then feel like they can relax a bit. It’s not necessarily about playing softer or not louder. Some of them are just mental, like quick shots or missing a blocking mission.

Other than the bad stretch, Fairmont was dominating. They patiently worked the ball fast until they got an open shot. The pass was so good that the Firebirds had 14 assists on 26 shots and edged Woodward 38-24 in the paint.

“We just want to be patient,” Doucet said. “We know teams will be good defensively in the first three or four passes, but eventually they will fall apart. We work on screens and then we stop on the screen and read the defender and then try to get the right read and be unchallenged on the edge.

Doucet scored 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting and Aden Marrero scored 13 on 6-of-7 shooting. The Firebirds shot 72.2 percent in the first half and 57.8 percent for the game. Many of Doucet’s and Marrero’s points were layups. The Firebirds’ offensive style means their lack of size doesn’t get in their way.

“Our mentality is that we have to do all the little things, the fundamentals, we have to match or exceed the strength of the other team’s game,” Molz said. “Otherwise we’re not going to be good. We have to do the little things very well at both ends of the floor.

When Molz returned to his alma mater as head coach three years ago, he told players what kind of effort it takes to be successful. At first, they didn’t fully buy into it.

“They thought I was overreacting with it,” Molz said. “I think they understand now that’s what it takes, especially in a league and in the area we play in. We have to play that way if we don’t want to be the biggest team the most. athletic.”

Joseph K. Bennett