FAIRMONT — As Travis Pait paced the sidelines, watching the West Bladen boys basketball team against Fairmont on Tuesday, he didn’t see the vintage Knights he was accustomed to coaching.
“That didn’t look like one of our West Bladen teams,” the West Bladen coach said after a 71-47 loss to the Golden Tornadoes. “We didn’t run our offense a lot until the end of the game.”
The offensive struggles were evident for the Knights (2-1) throughout the first three quarters, where Fairmont (3-0) held the visitors to eight, 12 and seven points.
“We knew it would be tough — we have so much youth,” Pait said. “Part of the problem with young players is when things start going bad, players start to do their own thing.”
Despite scoring troubles, West Bladen still managed to have three players finish in double figures. John Bowen scored 14 points to lead the Knights, with Stefan McDonald adding 11 and Sayaun Dent contributing 10. Bowen also finished with nine rebounds, but overall, Pait was displeased with the Knights’ effort on the boards.
“Another thing that hurt us is we didn’t finish rebounds,” Pait said. “We have to box out and do things the way we work on them. We’ll be fine, we just have to become consistent in what we’re trying to do.”
Leading by as many as 28 points late in the fourth quarter, Fairmont was sparked by the play of point guard Isaiah Inman, who finished with a triple-double. Inman scored 16 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 10 assists in the win.
“Isaiah’s effort is second to none,” Fairmont coach Montrell McNair said. “He gives it everything he has. He really plays like it’s his last game. When I say that to him in the locker room, I’m saying it to the team, but he really hears it.”
The senior helped the Golden Tornadoes widen the margin in the second half, leading several fast breaks that turned into alley-oop dunks. Fairmont took its biggest lead of the game after an Inman steal turned into a lob to Alshaquan Williams, who threw it down to push the lead to 57-29.
“Athleticism is something you can’t teach,” McNair said. “When you work hard in the offseason it shows even more. These guys have put in a lot of work and we always play with a chip on our shoulder.”
While Inman stole the show for most of the night, Williams notched another double-double, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Jarique Moore added 14 for the Golden Tornadoes.
West Bladen took an early 5-2 lead in the first quarter, but Fairmont closed the period on a 13-3 run to take the lead for good.
Inman scored 14 of his game-high 16 in the first half, giving Fairmont a 39-20 advantage at the break.
“These guys came in and showed a lot of heart,” McNair said. “West Bladen is always a tough team. We had to focus coming off a game (Tuesday) night. They gave me what I asked for tonight.”