COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In a back and forth game between Beechcroft (15-5) and Fairfield Union (12-8), an extremely cold fourth quarter from the Falcons allowed Beechcroft to come away victorious, winning the matchup 48-41.
Knocking down their free throws when they needed them and benefiting off poor shooting from Fairfield Union, Beechcroft used an excellent final quarter of play to run away with this game, the ultimate deciding factor in the outcome.
Despite the Falcons opening up the game with a three-pointer from junior sharpshooter Chase Poston, Beechcroft owned the first quarter. After Beechcroft senior James Delaney hit a corner three to put them up 16-7 with 47 seconds left in the frame, they rode this lead into the second.
Freshman guard Jaylen Simmons had his fingerprints all over the first, matching Fairfield Union’s point total with seven. A poised, crafty young guard, Simmons had an excellent showing all night for Beechcroft.
Using a barrage of three-pointers, the Falcons put together a big 12-2 run in the second quarter. Behind two triples from Poston and one from West Liberty commit Evan Conley, Fairfield Union looked to be in excellent shape, ahead 24-21 at the half.
The second half began very efficiently with the first three shots falling. After a three from Simmons and a tough take from junior Davon Wooden, Beechcroft found themselves in the midst of a 9-1 run and ahead 34-27 with four minutes left in the third.
However, the Falcons had an answer. After a big three from junior Ryan Magill cut the deficit to 34-30 with 3:50 left in the quarter, they finished off a 7-1 run of their own to head into the final frame down just 35-34.
However, Fairfield Union had no answer for Beechcroft big man Na’elle Simmons in the third. Bruising his way through the paint and dominating the glass, Simmons helped the Cougars regain the lead in the third.
Despite ending the third with a good chunk of momentum, the Falcons could not get many shots to fall in the fourth. As they failed to score on the offensive end, Beechcroft took care of the ball and made good choices on offense. This forced Fairfield Union to continuously foul the Cougars and send them to the line, ultimately costing them the game.
After several free throws from the Simmons duo and senior Jovaughn Hill, Beechcroft put the game on ice. Despite outscoring the Falcons just 13-7 in the frame, the controlled the entirety of the quarter as Fairfield Union scored a pair of their baskets late and in desperation.
Leading the way was Jaylen Simmons with a solid showing of 16 points, three assists and two steals. Na’elle Simmons also notched a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds to go along with a pair of blocks. Wooden also contributed eight points in an outing in which he impressed off the dribble on several occasions.
The Cougars are now finished with their regular season and will be back in action in the first round of the Division II tournament against Bloom-Carroll next Monday.
For Fairfield Union, Conley finished with a game-high 18 points to go along with seven rebounds. Poston also contributed 13 points on three triples. The Falcons could not get much going tonight outside of Poston and Conley, ultimately costing them this one.
Unfortunately, this is likely to be our last viewing of the Falcons this year as they do not play in our district tournament.
Jaylen Simmons (5’10 PG / Beechcroft / 2022): In my first viewing of the freshman tonight, I was most impressed with his poise and shot-making ability from the guard spot. A talented ball handler with a good set of combo moves, Simmons has an excellent feel for the game, especially given his young age. He is the lead ball handler for this Cougar team and handles it extremely well, as he does not try to force many passes or make impulse decisions. He showed off a quick, smooth perimeter shot on several occasions tonight as well. He knocked down three triples, all of which came off the catch and shoot. He looks to attempt his three-pointers off the catch and shoot, but showed an excellent ability to shoot off movement tonight as he loves attempting the mid-range dribble pull-up. He also shows good speed and quickness when going coast to coast and has a good finishing ability around the rim.
On defense, he showed that he has the potential to be a pest on the ball with time, but is still getting there. He has above-average lateral quickness for his age and keeps his hands active at all times. If he continues to grow, however, he could become major problem to opponents in the trapping defenses that the Cougars like to run.
Na’elle Simmons (6’7 PF / Beechcroft / 2019): At 6-foot-7, Simmons was no matchup for anyone on the Fairfield Union roster tonight. Dominating the paint, he finished with 12 points to go along with a game-high of 13 rebounds.
On offense, he did a great job of getting positioning in the post on smaller defenders. Once he received the ball down low, he used his big, strong, bruising frame to create separation and good looks around the basket. He showed off the ability to finish soft touch hook shots with both hands tonight as well, a trait much needed for a big man at the collegiate level. Due to being double-teamed in the post on many occasions, Simmons was also forced to show off his ball handling tonight. He did a good job of getting downhill and to the rim, using his momentum coupled with his strength to throw defenders out of the way.
Defensively, he is one of the better rim protectors in the area. With a long wingspan, it is easy for him to alter opposing shots, especially at the high school level. He has the ability to defend power forwards at the next level as well thanks to his strong frame. However, with added strength, he could be a dominant rim protector at the next level.
Currently holding an offer from Central State, Simmons could be a solid get for a low Division II program in need of a big.
Evan Conley (6’0 G / Fairfield Union / 2019): Despite being committed to West Liberty, it is only right that Conley is mentioned in tonight’s report. Showing off a great IQ on the offensive end of the ball, he generated the majority of his team’s scoring tonight, as he does on most nights. A three-level scorer, Conley scored in the lane, from the mid-range, and hit two three-pointers in the contest. He has a quick shot that he does not need much space to get off. Conley showed tonight that he is very comfortable shooting off movement, as he knocked down a deep two from the top of the key curling off of a screen as well. He works well in the pick and roll too, as he likes to come off the pick and shoot from the mid-range or find his roll man.
A pure scorer with a high IQ and solid vision as well, Conley should be just fine at West Liberty next season.