(Kenny Felt/Special to the Tribune)
In essence down to 7 1/2 players as sophomore point guard Julian Mills was fighting the flu, the Greyhounds kept fighting and managed to get within 10 points with 2:16 remaining.
"We're not gonna quit," Fort Scott head coach Michael Cook said. "We talked at the five-minute mark, 'Let's get it to 15, to 12 and see what happens.' When we got it to 10, I thought that was huge. But we didn't get stops. We got it to 10, they'd push it to 12. We were just trading with them and we may have been winded, down 20 and coming back. These guys have resilience and I think that will help us in conference."
The 'Hounds were down to eight after losing post Sheldon Hayes for the rest of the year due to academic issues. But they'll get three back for next semester when Maurice Fields and Darren Given become eligible and former Uniontown Eagle DuShaun Robinson, who is a member of the football team, joins the team.
State Fair (10-6), which won its seventh consecutive game overall and defeated Fort Scott for the third time this season, held an 18-7 lead with 12:41 to go in the first half. The lead grew to 26-13 with 8:28 to go as the Roadrunners' height was trumping the Greyhounds' speed.
Freshman guard Austin Danner kept the 'Hounds in it as he made five 3-point shots in the first half, the last with 5:41 to go that brought Fort Scott within 29-20.
"I think he has a freshman thought process of not wanting to shoot too much," Cook said. "But I've told him, 'Even if you don't make them, people come out and guard you and it opens up Julian.' We started him to get him some more shots and he came up big tonight. Six-of-11 from three. He needs to shoot 15 from three, in my opinion. I was pleased with his effort."
But that was Fort Scott's last field goal of the half -- the 'Hound made just 6 of 21 attempts in the first half -- and State Fair extended the lead to 38-21 with 1:51 left. Teance Walton and Mills each made a couple of free throws to cut the deficit to 13 at the half.
Fort Scott got off to a slow start in the second half. Tony McGilveary made his first 3 fielders of the half but the rest of the team was 0 for 5 as State Fair pushed the lead to 48-31 with 15:27 to go.
The 'Hounds cut it to 10 for the first time when Derrick Thomas hit a 3-pointer and a 2-pointer, then Mills scored a transition layup to bring them within 52-42 with 9:19 left.
"It was good that Derrick Thomas stepped up and became the backup point guard," Cook said. "I thought he did some great things at the point."
State Fair's lead grew to 67-48 on Michael Bradley's field goal -- the Roadrunners' last one of the contest -- with 4:13 to go.
The 'Hounds got the deficit down to 67-57 with 2:16 to go. But the Roadrunners made the free throws they had to make -- 9 of 12 in the last 1:52 -- to keep Fort Scott at bay.
Danner made 8 of 14 field goals, going 6 of 11 from 3-point range, in leading the Greyhounds with 20 points. Thomas and McGilveary each finished with 10. Kenny Cherry led State Fair with 21 points, Alfonzo Houston had 17 and Fred Wilson finished with 11.
State Fair shot 42 percent from the field, making 24 of 57 field-goal attempts, and also hit on 23 of 34 free throws. Fort Scott went 18 of 48 from the field for 38 percent and 22 of 30 at the charity stripe.
State Fair narrowly outrebounded Fort Scott, 37-35. McGilveary led the 'Hounds with 9 boards.
Mills dished 4 assists. Mills and Thomas had 3 steals each.
The Greyhounds will not play again until January 4. That night, they will open Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division play against Cowley College at 7:30 p.m.
STATE FAIR: Ojo 3-5 2-4 8, Wilson 2-5 7-10 11, Cherry 7-15 4-4 21, Galaya 3-8 3-5 9, Bradley 1-3 0-0 2, Burton 0-1 0-0 0, Kidane 3-5 2-2 8, Tucker 0-5 0-0 0, Houston 5-10 5-7 17, Beard 0-0 0-2 0. TOTALS: 24-57 23-34 76.
FORT SCOTT: Green 1-1 0-0 2, Miles 0-3 1-2 1, Mills 1-7 2-4 4, McGilveary 4-8 2-2 10, Danner 8-14 0-0 20, Nickelson 1-4 4-4 6, Walton 0-5 8-11 8, Thomas 3-6 5-7 10. TOTALS: 18-48 22-30 65.
Halftime: State Fair, 38-25.
Three-point field goals: State Fair 5-19 (Cherry 3-5, Houston 2-5, Wilson 0-1, Galaya 0-4, Tucker 0-4), Fort Scott 7-19 (Danner 6-11, Thomas 1-2, Miles 0-1, Mills 0-1, Walton 0-4).
Total fouls: State Fair 23, Fort Scott 25. Fouled out: Bradley, Kidane, Green. Technical foul: Bradley.
Rebounds: State Fair 37 (Cherry 6), Fort Scott 35 (McGilveary 9). Assists: State Fair 13 (Houston 5), Fort Scott 5 (Mills 4). Turnovers: State Fair 16, Fort Scott 22. Steals: State Fair 11 (Cherry 4), Fort Scott 10 (Mills 3, Thomas 3). Blocked shots: State Fair 4 (Ojo 2, Bradley 2), Fort Scott none.