FAIRMONT, W.Va. – The Fairmont State men’s basketball team was last together on the court for a game on March 12.
The Fighting Falcons had a trip to the NCAA Tournament taken away from them due to the coronavirus pandemic, and played their first game since on Tuesday.
Fairmont State’s roster split into two, scrimmaging one another, for the first game-like action since March. And there was certainly a buzz in the air at Joe Retton Arena.
“They were pretty excited, when we said we were going to do this last week the smiles were pretty big,” said head coach Tim Koenig. “They were ear to ear. It’s just good to see guys play, you know. And I’m smiling too. Some things don’t change, though. Dale’s making plays, Cole’s making shots, Kenzie’s at the rim, Isaiah Sanders’ doing his thing. It’s good to see.”
“Oh, these guys were looking forward to it. You need it. You have to do things like this,” Koenig continued.
And his players agreed it was great to be back on the court.
“We’re itching. I mean, just playing today was like heaven to us. It was cut a little short, but it felt good to be able to play,” said Fairmont Senior alum Zyon Dobbs.
“It was just nice to get back out on the court with all my teammates. Something that looks like a game,” said Morgantown graduate, and Fairmont State senior, Kenzie Melko-Marshall. “I mean, it’s been about eight months now since we all got to play together, or against each other, so it was just nice to get back out here.”
And not only were the returners worth watching, but so were a couple of newcomers.
Fairmont Senior alums Trey Washenitz and Zyon Dobbs got their first minutes of action with their new team. Washenitz knocked down a mid-range jumper, while Dobbs tallied a put back shot a few assists, and was tasked with guarding one of the best players in the MEC – Dale Bonner.
“It’s the first time being able to play back at home since my senior year. So I mean, to put on this maroon and white, I feel like I’m at home,” said Dobbs.
The work that Dobbs has put in thus far with his new team is already catching the eyes of his coaches and teammates.
“He’s a competitor. He’s a smart guy. He looks around, he knows that Dale’s one of our best players. So, if he’s on the other team, he’s probably going to get matched up with him,” said Koenig when asked about Dobbs guarding Bonner in the scrimmage.
“He’s a killer. I love playing with him. He’s always hungry. He’s ready to go every day. You don’t got to tell him anything,” said junior guard Isaiah Sanders.
“Zyon’s a great defender. He’s a knock down three-point shooter when he’s open. He’s going to bring a lot of energy, a lot of defense. We’re really lucky to have him,” said Melko-Marshall, who played against Dobbs during their high school careers.
Koenig said that he and his team are practicing around eight hours a week, and will continue to do so for another month, and then ramp things up around Thanksgiving.
Fairmont State, along with all other MEC schools, hope to big their seasons in January.