Whether they’re getting their faces painted or cheering as loudly as they can in the stands, students in the Fairmont community know how to support their basketball teams.
On Wednesday, the Avalon High School Lancers made the trek from Catalina Island to take on the Fairmont Prep Huskies in girls and boys basketball. Both games were played in the middle of the day, creating the opportunity for junior high students from the Anaheim Hills, Historic Anaheim, and North Tustin campuses to be part of an exciting trip to Fairmont Prep to root for the Huskies.
After students ate lunch on the Fairmont Prep campus and had the chance to show their Husky pride with face paint, they made their way to the gym to learn various chants from the Fairmont Prep cheerleaders and then watch an exciting dunk contest, featuring three varsity players — freshman shooting guard/small forward Pape Momar Cisse, sophomore power forward Junior Nuesso, and junior center Mawutor Nogoson — and Fairmont Prep girls varsity volleyball coach Phil Lopez.
The dunk contest was full of anticipation and celebration from the boisterous crowd as each contestant did his best to do a little showboating and actually make the dunk count. By crowd noise voting, Cisse walked away with the victory and, to show his appreciation, threw down one more turnaround dunk that sent the students into another joyous uproar.
The girls team then took the court, and it was a one-sided contest from the start. The Huskies led 39-14 at halftime and walked away with a final 79-21 victory.
It was a similar story for the boys, who dominated the first half 35-1. The entire game was available via live stream as announcers provided ongoing commentation. At halftime, the younger schools left to return to their campuses, and the Fairmont Prep students were able to fill in the stands and support their team. While the Lancers tried to put up a fight, they were no match for the Huskies, who walked away with a 67-14 win.
Head basketball coach Joedy Gardner said that, while it’s challenging to coach and keep his players motivated with they pull ahead with such a large lead so early in the game, he was proud of the way the Huskies stayed disciplined, played solid defense, and continued to play for one another against the Lancers.
“It’s really easy when you get a big lead not to play the right way — it becomes very individualized,” he said. “But this is probably the most unselfish team I’ve ever coached, and we practice that. We work on these types of situations in practice. The kids are very intelligent, so they get it; they buy in. That’s what great about this group — they’ve all bought in to their roles.”
And the support from the entire Fairmont community certainly helped the Huskies keep the energy alive and fight until the final buzzer.
“This is part of the culture change that we’re trying to establish here, and it’s really important to get all of our students involved,” Gardner said. “It was a great idea to have [our junior high and high school students] be able to experience it. We were trying to keep the energy up so that people get excited and see that we’re for real and that we’re a team that’s fun to come watch.”
The students in the crowd weren’t the only ones who got pumped up about cheering for the Huskies — the players felt their energy and were able to use it on the court.
“[Their support] keeps up the morale of the team, and they really motivate us,” Nogoson said. “It elevates our game.”