By Maurice Patton
SANTA FE – It didn’t feel like a basketball season opener when Fairview and Santa Fe met Tuesday night at the Wayne Walters Gymnasium.
The contest had the intensity of a late-season clash – and the inexperience of a summer-league matchup.
“By this point, we’ve usually had 25 camp games and scrimmages,” Wildcats coach Brad Slaughter said after his team missed six of nine fourth-quarter free throw attempts in a 77-73 defeat. “We knew we were going to see a lot of holes, win or lose.
“We were out of sorts on defense. But I saw a lot of good things. We decided early on, we’re going to have fun and enjoy this season, and we’re going to stick to that.”
Against a Fairview team that averaged 24 wins over the past three years, Santa Fe – the defending District 10-A regular-season titlist – held its own early behind junior guard Andy Slaughter. The coach’s son scored 18 of his team-high 27 points in the first half, including a bucket two seconds before intermission that gave the Wildcats a 40-38 lead.
The third quarter didn’t go quite so well for the hosts, though, as Fairview opened with a 15-3 run sparked by seven straight Kennedy Pendergrass points.
In the midst of that game-turning spurt, Slaughter was called for a questionable charge and had a basket waved off that would have tied the game at 45. Instead, the Yellow Jackets went on to build a 53-43 cushion – and Slaughter fouled out with 54.6 seconds remaining in the game. Facing a two-point deficit at that juncture, Santa Fe could get no closer as the visitors went five-for-seven from the foul line to close out the victory.
“We won that game in about a three-minute stretch in the third quarter,” Fairview coach Trey McCoy said. “We corrected our mistakes from the first half. We did a very poor job rebounding; we didn’t attack the ball. I told them, if they’d attack the ball, we’d win the game.
“For all of us, though, this is June 5th.”
Pendergrass finished with a game-high 33 points to lead the Yellow Jackets. Westin McClanahan scored 14 points for Santa Fe, with half of his team’s eight 3-pointers – “They hit some deep bombs on us,” McCoy said – and Logan Wilkins and Will Monhollen added 12 points each.
“We had four guys with 10-plus points each, and another (Colton Steward) with four points who’s capable of scoring 20,” the elder Slaughter said. “I like our balance.
“We’ll build from here.”
Offensive woes plague Lady ‘Cats: Hattie Hedrick scored Santa Fe’s first six points, but it took her nearly 12 minutes to do so as the hosts trailed by 17 midway through the second quarter in an eventual 74-35 loss to Fairview.
The Lady ‘Jackets got 39 points from their interior tandem of Rylie Dillingham (20 points) and Kelsey Gossage, and connected on eight 3s en route to the dominant victory.
“They were pretty tough. They were well balanced, with the two good inside players and with guards that could make shots,” Santa Fe coach Jonathon Slaughter said. “But the most impressive thing about them was their defense. They really pressured us. We couldn’t run our offense. We turned it over too much.”
With coach Wayne McGowan quarantined since last week, Fairview was left to the leadership of veteran boys coach Ricky Bledsoe.
“He’ll be back (Wednesday),” Bledsoe said of McGowan. “I’m excited about that.
“We haven’t been a 3-point shooting team, but individually we’ve been working hard. I thought Rylie and Kelsey played really smart. As long as they play smart, we move the ball and hit the open shots, we’re going to be alright. And we had a couple of girls that did a really good job of guarding the ball.”
Five different Fairview players hit at least one trey in the win.
Elise Adkison finished with 10 points to lead Santa Fe, with Jade Arnold adding eight off the bench.
“I told the girls, go out and have fun, enjoy every game, because you never know when the next one will be,” Slaughter said. “If we get to play I think we’ll get better as the season goes along.”
Santa Fe’s scheduled game Friday against visiting Collinwood has been postponed as athletic activities have been suspended for Wayne County schools. The Wildcats and Lady Wildcats will resume play Nov. 24 at Grace Christian Academy in Franklin.
Fairview girls 74, Santa Fe 35
F 14 22 23 15 – 74
S 3 11 13 8 – 35
Fairview (74) – Summer Anderson 4, Chloe Lee 9, Mary Jane Kinton 6, Kaycie Mullens 9, Rylie Dillingham 20, Kelsey Gossage 19, Anna Marie Brown 4, Gigi Harris 3
Santa Fe (35) – Gracie Mills 2, Elise Adkison 10, Emmy Bates 5, Aniston Slaughter 3, Hattie Hedrick 6, Emily Hopkins 1, Jade Arnold 8
3-pointers – Fairview 8 (Lee, Kinton 2, Mullens 3, Gossage, Harris), Santa Fe 4 (Bates, Slaughter, Arnold 2)
Fairview boys 77, Santa Fe 73
F 20 18 21 18 – 77
S 18 22 12 21 – 73
Fairview (77) – Carter Durham 10, Jackson Arnold 5, Jacob Neal 12, Thomas Lankford 6, Kennedy Pendergrass 33, Mays McCoy 8, Shammah Takip 3
Santa Fe (73) – Josh Martin 3, Logan Willkins 12, Westin McClanahan 14, Colton Steward 4, Andy Slaughter 27, Will Monhollen 12, Landon Evans 1
3-pointers – Fairview 7 (Arnold, Neal 2, Lankford, Pendergrass 3), Santa Fe 8 (Martin, McClanahan 4, Steward, Slaughter, Monhollen)