FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Fairmont Senior fans are used to seeing Jaelin Johnson go on a scoring spree in the second half of games.
He’s seemingly made a habit of feeling out the first portion of a game before attacking in the second half.
Maybe never was it needed more than Friday night, as Fairmont Senior went into the locker room trailing by five to visiting Grafton in the Class AAA Region II, Section 1 title game.
Johnson exploded in the third quarter, propelling the Polar Bears from down five points to up by three, while scoring 14 points in the period to get himself and his team back out in front.
Johnson scored a game-high 26 points — all of them key –, as Fairmont Senior captured its latest sectional title, 60-50, over the Bearcats.
“I wasn’t trying to lose this game, and let someone else come in and cut down our nets. So I just said, this second half, I’m just going to give it all I got and just continue to play. And I told the team, the game’s not over until it’s the fourth quarter and there’s zero-zero on the clock,” said Johnson after the game. “And I just wanted to show the team that I can lead this team. If they need me to score, I’ll be there to score. If they need me to pass, I’ll be there to pass. So, just anything I can do for the team to help us get the W.”
Fairmont Senior led 12-8 after the first quarter, but a big second quarter by Grafton had the Bearcats feeling in control.
Grafton outscored the Polar Bears 18-9 in the second period to gain a 26-21 lead at halftime.
The third quarter saw momentum swing the other way. With Johnson leading the way, Fairmont Senior regained the lead.
But Grafton wasn’t going down quietly.
With a great contingent of fans behind them, the Bearcats drew to as close as two points nearing the midway point in the fourth quarter. It was all Polar Bears from that point on.
Zycheus Dobbs added 13 points for the Polar Bears.
Tanner Moats led the way for the Bearcats with 12 points.
With the win, Fairmont Senior advances to the Regional round with home-court advantage, and will host Lincoln (if the Cougars can play.)
Meanwhile, things don’t get any easier for Grafton, which now must play against the No. 1 team in the class, Robert C. Byrd, with a trip to the state tournament on the line.