BENTON — A game that came down to the final possession saw Fairfield edge visiting Wawasee 44-42 Tuesday, Nov. 23 in season-opening non-conference boys basketball.

After two missed Falcon free throws with 7.7 to go, the Warriors scrambled for the ball and could not get off a shot before the final buzzer.

Senior point guard Caleb Wright scored eight of Fairfield’s 10 fourth-quarter points with a 3-pointer and five free throws to help propel his team.

“It makes a huge difference when you’ve got good guard play,” said Wawasee coach Jon Everingham. “When (Wright) went out of the game, we went to some pressure. It’s hard to get the ball away from (Wright).”

The Warriors trailed 34-29 going into the fourth period and pulled to within 40-39 with 1:34 to go on a 3-pointer by freshman Myles Everingham.

Wawasee (0-1) came within 44-42 on 1-of-2 foul shots by junior Collin Roberson with 9.8 remaining, leading to the final sequence.

Everingham praised his team’s resilience, particularly in light of all the varsity newcomers in the lineup.

“We know we’re going to get tested as the season goes along,” said Everingham. “We’re very pleased with the way we came out tonight. We’ve got a lot of inexperienced players and the first half kind of showed that.

“But we took a punch and came right back at them. Fairfield made the plays they needed to down the stretch.

“I’d like to offer my congratulations to (Falcons head coach) Derek Hinen. He’s great for education and he’s going to be a great young coach. I know this is a special night for win getting his first win.”

Said first-year Fairfield coach Hinen, “We stayed positive and stayed together and that was the difference. Our defense waned a little bit and (Wawasee) definitely picked it up in that second half.”

Senior Keaton Dukes (17 points — nine in the third quarter), senior Caden Welty (8), Myles Everingham (6) and Roberson (5) paced the Warriors’ attack. Roberson pulled down 12 of his team’s 30 rebounds, including seven in the fourth quarter.

Guiding Fairfield (1-0) was senior Owen Miller (11 points), Caleb Wright (11), senior Braedon Helms (9) and junior Seth Yoder (6). The Falcons canned nine 3-pointers — three for Miller, two each for Caleb Wright and Yoder and one apiece for Helms and junior Connor Wright, who also had five of his team’s 24 rebounds.

Each team committed 13 turnovers — Wawasee two in the fourth period and Fairfield eight in the third.

After leading by as many as 18-8 in the second quarter, Fairfield took a 21-15 lead into halftime.

The Falcons buried all five of their 3-point attempts — two by Yoder and one each by Miller. Connor Wright and Caleb Wright — in the second period.

Welty scored five of Wawasee’s nine second-quarter points with a long 3-pointer to beat the buzzer before the half.

The game was knotted at 6-all at the close of the first quarter. Helms tallied four points for the Falcons and Dukes and Myles Everingham three apiece for the Warriors.

Wawasee’s lone first-half lead was at 3-2.

“The first half we played passive,” said Everingham. “When you play passive you’re going to get beat. There’s a big difference between passive a patience. We weren’t even looking to score the ball to the basket.

“We need to show an aggressive mindset going to the basket. We did a good job of that in the second half.”

In the junior varsity game, Fairfield beat Wawasee 36-32. The game was tied 29-29 late in the contest. Leading scorers were Noah Mast (10 points), Dayton Lockwood (10) and Alex Hofer (6) for the Falcons and Darius Lewis (11), Carson Smith (9) and Robbie Fininson (6) for the Warriors.

Fairfield visits Goshen and Angola goes to Wawasee Saturday, Nov. 27.