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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 20, 2017

Horras, Gamrath using height on basketball court

Fairfield’s stature is putting stress on opposing defenses
By ALLYUS FRITZ/Ledger sports editor | Dec 27, 2013
Photo by: ALLYUS FRITZ/Ledger photo Trojan seniors Vince Horras, left, and Landon Gamrath stand with youth basketball campers Friday at Fairfield High School. Horras is 6 feet 6 inches tall and Gamrath is 6 feet 9 inches.

Landon Gamrath had grown a half-inch each time he returned to the doctor.

The now 6-foot-9-inch Fairfield senior was in middle school at the time, and a sickness caused some doctors visits. Each time he went, it seemed he had gotten taller.

“I grew around six inches in six months,” Gamrath said. “It was something bizarre like that.”

Fellow senior Vince Horras, who is 6 feet 6 inches tall, says his growth has been steady throughout his life. Both individuals were already above 6-feet tall when they hit sixth grade. Both have outgrown their fathers by plenty. And now, both anchor the Fairfield basketball team, which is one of the tallest teams in the state.

“It seems like everywhere we walk in we’re the most noticeable people because we’re up higher than everyone else,” Gamrath said.

Horras’s mother noticed that he takes pictures at a downward angle because he is always looking down to take them. Because of the angle, individuals in those photos tend to look more squat down and have large heads.

“Maybe that’s the way we always see things, I don’t know,” Horras said.

Height is something each basketball team craves. All five Fairfield starters, the other three being Joe Hietpas, Matt Carr and Federico Ferretti, each are at least 6-feet tall. This is creating matchup problems for other teams.

The Trojans (4-2) like to send the ball inside to the post and work the offense through the big men. Gamrath and Horras attract enough attention that they collapse defenses, forcing defenders to help in the post and leave guards like Carr and Hietpas open for passes and outside shots. If the defenders don’t collapse, then it becomes up to Horras and Gamrath to use their height advantage to produce offense.

“They’ve both improved to where we need to get them the ball,” Fairfield coach Tyler Miklo said. “They need to get a lot of touches because of the effort they’ve put in to get better. There are a lot of big kids out there that can’t help teams, and ours can.

“Vince has gotten a lot stronger over the last few years, and he can be really physically imposing. Landon has gotten stronger and can now absorb more contact.”

Last season, Mt. Pleasant’s Faith Pope and Keokuk’s Kendall Clark could matchup with Fairfield. This season, the Trojans are clearly the tallest team in the conference. Miklo said that strength is the more important factor.

“There may be teams we have a few inches on, but if they’re stronger they could give us issues,” Miklo said. “Washington wasn’t a big team but they were really physical with us.”

Gamrath and Horras scored their least amount of combined points, just 16, in Fairfield’s loss to the Demons. Gamrath is averaging 11.2 points per game and Horras is averaging 9.8. Horras’s best game came when his team needed a boost against Mt. Pleasant. He scored 18 points, while Gamrath matched him with 10 rebounds to help the Trojans win a conference game with massive implications. Last season’s 4-18 record certainly won’t be replicated this season.

“Offseason work, as far as lifting and scrimmaging goes, has helped improve all of us,” Gamrath said. “I felt a lot more comfortable coming into this season than I did last season. We proved to ourselves that we can win, and once you do that, you begin to look at things differently.”

Fairfield’s season will get tougher in the second half, but height will play a huge impact. Horras and Gamrath, however, aren’t always pleased about their stature. Cars and airplanes, for instance, can be problematic.

“When you try to fit in tight spaces it can be tough,” Gamrath said with a smile. “I drive a Toyota Camry, and I’m kind of cramped in that.”

This, apparently, is the price one must pay if they wish to dominate the post.

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