Fairfield's Sam Buddelmeyer (23) looks for an open teammate while head coach Josh Howland looks on at the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic, Saturday. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Fairfield's Sam Buddelmeyer (23) looks for an open teammate while head coach Josh Howland looks on at the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic, Saturday. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Playing their second game in as many days to begin the regular season, the Fairfield Lions won their second straight game, with this time being a non-conference win against the East Clinton Astros by a 73-66 score.

The game was a part of the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic held at the Southern State Patriot Center, where on day two of the event the Lions held the lead at the conclusion of each quarter, as Sam Buddelmeyer was named the Player of the Game. Buddelmeyer led the Lions with 24 points, scoring 10 two-point baskets, and he was 4-of-6 from the free-throw line.

FHS (1-0, 2-0) totaled four players in double-figure scoring, as Cody Gragg scored 13 points (six two-point field goals, one free throw), Tucker Ayres collected 12 points (four two-point baskets, 4-of-6 free throws) and James Bentley finished with 10 points (four two-point baskets, 2-of-4 free throws).



“It’s there,” FHS head coach Josh Howland said when talking about his team playing more uptempo in the win. “We have 6-4 and 6-5 guys inside, so we’ll take advantage of that as well. We’ll look to score the layups first … I believe we were 85 percent shooting in the first half, and of course that is layups, a lot of layups.”

That scoring for the Lions saw them add 21 points in the opening quarter, beginning with an FHS lead by a 6-2 score off six straight points less than two minutes into the game.

The Astros tied the score at 6-6, but the Lions answered with a 7-0 run off a layup by Wyatt Willey, a three-point play from Cody Gragg and then another two points by Gragg for a 13-6 lead with 3:52 left in the opening quarter.

After two points by the Astros off free throws from JT McCarren, the Lions answered with a two-point basket in the paint by Buddelmeyer and later a jumper from Buddelmeyer for a 17-11 lead.

The Astros came back with a 7-0 run of their own, but two points off a layup by Quinton Beatty gave the Lions the three-point advantage when the first frame came to a close.

Fairfield increased their lead at the end of the second frame to six points for a 39-33 lead with an 18-point quarter, while the Astros scored 15 points. In that second frame for FHS, Gragg, Buddelmeyer, Ayres and Bentley all contributed to the scoring with the four players combining for eight two-point field goals and two free throws.

In that same second frame, the Astros had eight points from Wyatt Floyd, including one 3-pointer. Floyd finished the game with 29 points (19 points in the first half), as he was 8-of-9 from the free-throw line, while also making one 3-pointer and nine two-point baskets.

“We let (Wyatt) Floyd control the first half. He had 19 points in the first half, but we pulled together at halftime and switched over to a box and one to shut Floyd down,” Howland said. “They have some other shooters too, with a couple of their guys hitting threes. Floyd was scoring at will against us and we had no answers, so we switched over to the box and one.”

The Lions really came through on the scoreboard in the third frame with a 23-point quarter, while the Astros had 19 points in the eight-minute frame, with the Lions leading 62-52.

Fairfield had balanced scoring in the third with seven players reaching the scoring column as Austin Setty and Willey each made a 3-pointer. Gragg, Buddelmeyer, Bryson Simmons, Ayres and Bentley also added points in the third, with Bentley contributing five points in the quarter.

East Clinton in the third made three 3-pointers with Dylan Michael sinking two and Matt Mitchell also making one in the frame.

The fourth quarter, the Astros made things a little closer, starting the frame with six consecutive points to make it a 62-58 score. Following a couple free throws by the Lions, EC got back to within four points, only to see the Lions take a 67-60 lead with a free throw by Ayres and layup by Buddelmeyer with 3:33 remaining in regulation.

From that point on, the Lions had points from Buddelmeyer, Willey and Ayres to eventually build the final seven-point win. Willey finished the game with seven points.

As a team, the Lions had 27 two-point baskets, two 3-pointers and they were 13-of-20 from the free-throw line. East Clinton had 17 two-point baskets, five 3-pointers and a 17-of-20 performance from the free-throw line.

Next for the Lions is a home non-conference game against the Paint Valley Bearcats Tuesday.

“I’m happy we are growing,” Howland said of the 2-0 start. “We have more growing to do, and in order to to give ourselves a good opportunity this coming Tuesday, we are going to have to grow more, there is no doubt about it. It is going to be a tremendous challenge with (Dylan) Swingle, but he’s not the only player Paint Valley has who can score and player who can get up and down the floor and have a basketball IQ.”