Paulding's Ethan Foltz, right, goes up against Fairview's Brody Retcher during the opening tip-off of Friday night's contest. Paulding won 51-37 to stay perfect in the Green Meadows Conference. (Photo/Adam Papin)

PAULDING – The Jungle was rocking Friday night, as the largest crowd of the year watched Paulding pick up another GMC win, defeating the Fairview Apaches 51-37.

Fairview came out aggressive and hung with the Panthers for most of the game, only trailing by one, 36-35 after three. However, a strong fourth quarter by Paulding pushed them to victory.

“They played us really tough. I knew they would,” said Panther coach Brian Miller. “Coach Kaufman is a competitor. He wants to win everything like we all do, but his kids play so hard.”

The win has Paulding on the verge of a conference title, in just its second year back in the Green Meadows Conference. They can clinch the title outright with a win next Friday night at Tinora.

The first half was back-and-forth between the teams, but Paulding held a slight edge. The Panthers led 12-9 at the end of the first quarter, and a Nick Manz buzzer-beating three-pointer gave Paulding a four-point lead at the half.

“We didn’t play badly at all. We struggled to hit shots,” said Miller. “I think we were 3 for 19 from the three-point line and a lot of those were wide-open looks.”

Fairview came out feisty in the third quarter to cut into the Panthers’ lead, outscoring the hosts 10-9 in the quarter.

Paulding pulled away in the fourth quarter, and they did it with their defense by blocking shots, forcing turnovers, and most importantly, turning those into points. In the end, the Panthers held Fairview to just two points in the fourth quarter.

Senior Ethan Foltz made four straight free throws as well to shift the momentum toward Paulding.

Miller added, “There are nights when you’re not going to shoot well, and the other team’s going to punch you in the bow, and you have to respond. I thought we responded in the fourth quarter, giving up only two points.”

Three Panthers reached double figures, all seniors. Nick Manz led the way with thirteen points while Ethan Foltz and Peyton Adams each scored ten. Luke Zartman added seven, while Isaac Reeb added five. In total, the senior class accounted for all but six of Paulding’s points.

Casey Agler scored four points and Kane Jones added two to close out the scoring.

Paulding won the battle of the boards, outrebounding Fairview 28-24. The Panthers forced 13 turnovers while protecting the ball, committing just three themselves.

Eli Shininger paced the Apaches with 12 points. Kale Saylers scored seven, Brody Retcher had six, and Adam Lashaway added five. Kasen Kauffman closed out the scoring with 3 points.

With the win, the Panthers picked up their tenth win of the season, improving to 10-6 (5-0). The loss drops Fairview to 2-13 (0-5).

Fairview won the JV game 39-33.

(Adam Papin is editor of The Paulding County Progress. He can be reached at