Fairfield's Jesse Current drives to the hoop while being defended by two players from Waterford. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Fairfield's Jesse Current drives to the hoop while being defended by two players from Waterford. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
The Fairfield Lions saw their season end at the Division IV SE District Semifinals on Tuesday night. Like they have all season, they made things difficult for their opponent, but the No. 1 seeded Waterford Wildcats were too strong at the end, seeing the Lions fall 63-52 at the Ohio University Convocation Center.

Fairfield, the Division II Southern Hills Athletic Conference champions, were able to get within single digits of the Wildcats at various times in the game, including the fourth quarter, but Waterford (19-4) fended off the Lions each time to advance.

The Lions end the season at 17-7 overall, as they went 1-1 in the postseason, defeating Sciotoville East in the sectional round last week.

For the game, the Lions were led in scoring by Wyatt Evans with 12 points, followed by Jesse Current with 11 points.

“Size-wise, I think at every position they were a little bit bigger than us. The kids played hard,” FHS head coach Everett Snyder said. “We just kind of let that second quarter get away from us to go into halftime down 12.

“We went on those runs there and finally got our pressure going there halfway through the third quarter. We were a little bit hesitant there at the end of the second half because we wanted to put pressure on the basketball and try to create some turnovers.

“We tried there I think two different times, but we’d cut it to five and they’d go down and shake somebody loose and hit a three. You fight and fight and fight. You’ve got to battle back, keep pressure on. They did a great job tonight of taking it back to them and forcing the issue on offense.”

The first frame for the Fairfield Lions saw them take an easy 4-0 lead, beginning with a free throw from Cody Gragg. That was followed later with a free throw by Wyatt Evans, then two more points from Evans, who wrestled for the ball on the court, eventually taking the ball to the hoop for the 4-0 lead with 6:24 still left in the first quarter.

After Waterford scored their first points of the game, the Lions had Klay Walker sink a 3-pointer at the 5:35 mark for a 7-2 advantage. Though that was answered by Waterford with a 3-pointer of their own, the Lions responded with two points from Jesse Current with 4:55 left in the quarter for a 9-5 advantage.

At the 3:44 mark, the Lions sank another 3-pointer, this one from Current, but the Wildcats came back to eventually the score at 12. The Lions broke the tie with points from Tucker Ayres with just under a minute left in the quarter, but Waterford had other plans with four straight points to end the first frame, putting the Lions back, 16-14. Ayres finished with nine points for the Lions.

FHS struggled a bit in the second frame, being outscored by Waterford, 19-9. FHS never led in the second frame but did have a layup while being fouled from Evans, bringing the Lions to within two points of the Wildcats.

Later, Evans again brought the Lions back to within two points of Waterford at the 4:31 mark, including an assist from Klay Walker. As Waterford continued to add to their lead, they eventually built a 30-21 advantage for the Lions to call a full timeout. FHS responded with two free throws by Evans with 1:17 left in the opening half, but a seven point deficit turned into 12 points with a jumper and a 3-pointer by the Wildcats to end the half at 35-23.

The Lions opened the second half with a turnover but were first to add to the scoreboard with a free throw from Gragg, as he finished the game with four points.

FHS then had two points from Current, but those points were answered by the Wildcats with a two 3-pointers. Sandwiched in between those 3-pointers were two points from Daulton, who totaled seven points.

Ayres made it an 11-point deficit at 41-30 with two points in the paint at the 3:30 mark of the third.

That 11-point deficit began to get lower for the Lions, with FHS using defense to stop Waterford from adding to their lead, while using their offense to knock down shots at a better rate.

FHS scored eight straight points, beginning with Ayres scoring two points in the paint, followed by Daulton being clutch at the free-throw line by sinking three in-a-row after being fouled beyond the arc.

From there, the Lions added three points with a put back from Ayres and a free throw by Mason Cain for a 41-36 deficit with 1:37 left in the third. Waterford broke up the 8-0 run with two points of their own, but Cain, who totaled three points for FHS, came back with two more makes from the free-throw line to bring the Lions back to within five points of the Wildcats at 43-38 with 56.7 on the clock at the Convo.

Then came the fourth quarter, and the Lions didn’t make things easy for the Wildcats, getting to within five points of the Wildcat lead on more than one occasion.

The Wildcats began the fourth by increasing their lead to 11 points 40 seconds into the frame to see Ayres sink a free throw. Later, the Lions added four more points from the free-throw line from Current for a 51-42 differential.

With 4:05 left in regulation, Daulton scored two points on a layup, then Evans took what was his third charge of the game with 3:56 on the scoreboard.

Following the points and the taken charge, the Lions had two more points from Evans and then a free throw by Evans, making it a six-point deficit for the Lions at 53-47.

Waterford added three points, but the Lions came back with points from Gragg. With 57 seconds left in regulation, the Lions had a 3-pointer by Walker for their final points of the season, as WHS eventually scored four final points off free throws for the 11-point loss by the Lions. Walker ended the game with six points.

Waterford was led by Jordan Welch with 18 points, Isaac Huffman with 16 points and Tyler McCutchen with 12 points.

Seniors for the Lions are: Walker, Kayden Lamb, Evans, Daulton, Cain and Current.

Snyder spoke about the seniors and the season as a whole following the game.

“They overachieved this year. Coming into this season here, I said don’t worry about what people say. You guys know, and we know, that we’ve got a great group here coming back, and we’re going to make some things happen,” Snyder said. “They had a couple goals at the beginning of the season. One was to win the league, and we did that, and the other was to make it to the Convo, and we did that. They fought hard for what they got, and I’m proud of their achievements.”

(Check back on Wednesday for more photos from the game.)