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Fairfield advances to 5th consecutive district final game

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Fairfield junior Logan McIntosh led all scorers with 22 points in the Lions' district semifinal win over Manchester, Saturday at the Ohio University Convocation Center. Also pictured for FHS is Larkin Friend, who had a double-double. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

ATHENS — A 29-point win over conference rival Manchester puts the Fairfield Lions back in the district championship game for a fifth consecutive year.

Saturday night at Ohio University’s Convocation Center, the No. 2 seeded Lions (21-3) mostly controlled all aspects of their Division IV District Semifinal game against the No. 7 seeded Manchester Greyhounds, winning by a 62-33 score, and in the process defeating the Greyhounds for a third time this season, all while ending Manchester’s six-game winning streak going into the game. 

The Lions, on the other hand, have now won four straight games going into the district championship game, where they will face the No. 3 seeded Federal Hocking Lancers, who defeated No. 7 seeded Waterford, 52-41 in their district semifinal game on Saturday following Fairfield’s win. 

Earlier this season, the Lions defeated Federal Hocking in a game played at Albany Alexander High School in a Winter Classic event by a 60-47 on Dec. 30, and these two schools last faced each other in the tournament during the 2020-21 season where FHS won 62-49 on March 3, 2021. 

Back to Saturday night at the Convo where the Lions (21-3) had one of their most dominant quarters of basketball in recent memory, and for the season, leading 18-3 after the first quarter and at one point holding a 17-point lead in the first frame with 45 seconds on the clock with a score of 18-1. 

“I thought we took care of the basketball pretty well for the most part,” Fairfield head coach Quentin Williams said. “We just had little stretches where we lost a little bit of consistency, and that’s where some turnovers came from, but that's going to happen. I was proud with the way that we played with poise throughout the entire game.”

The dominating first quarter started out with Cade Miller putting the ball back in the hoop off a rebound for the first points of the game, followed by a 3-pointer from Logan McIntosh with 5:43 left in the opening quarter for the early five-point lead. 

McIntosh led all scorers with 22 points in the game, as the junior’s scoring for the game consisted of five two-point baskets, two 3-pointers and he was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. 

Manchester’s Connor Darnell put the Greyhounds on the board with a free-throw with 5:34 left in the first, but from there, that’s where the roar of the Lions could be heard throughout the Convo, starting with a free throw made by Larkin Friend. Then, the time on the Convo clock went from “Basketball 30” to “Miller Time,” as Fairfield’s Miller made two consecutive 3-pointers at the 2:51 and 2:09 left in the first for a 13-1 lead. Miller finished the game with eight points. 

The Lions increased their lead to 18-1 with Friend — who had a block the previous Manchester possession — making two free throws, followed by McIntosh draining a 3-pointer for the 17-point lead with 45 seconds left on the clock. Manchester’s Parker Hayslip connected with a jumper at the buzzer for the Greyhounds — their first shot made from the field — leaving Fairfield with a 18-3 lead at the end of the first.

Manchester’s best quarter was the second frame as they outscored the Lions 13-7 in the 8:00 played, taking the FHS lead from 17 points to nine points, as FHS held a 26-16 halftime lead. 

The Greyhounds (15-9) in the second made three 3-pointers and two two-point baskets, with Luke Applegate sinking two 3-pointers, and Connor Darnell scored five points with a 3-pointer and two-point basket. Also in the second from MHS, Hayslip scored two points. 

Fairfield’s second quarter wasn’t their top performance, as their seven total points included a 3-pointer by Trey House, two free throws made by McIntosh and a basket by Friend. Friend totaled 12 points with three two-point baskets, and he was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, plus he had 10-plus rebounds for a double-double. House also totaled 12 points in the win.

Then came the third frame, and from the time the Lions walked back onto the court until the game ended, they were the ones setting the tone.

“We were ready to play except for that second quarter,” Williams said. “I think we thought the game was over there in the first half. I think we were playing one half. They kind of heard it from me at halftime and adjusted. We played better the second half, just like we did the first quarter, making them shoot tough shots, making them shoot contested shots, and rebounding was better.”

With Manchester cutting the FHS lead down to seven points by making the first basket of the third, the Lions answered with 10 consecutive points, increasing their lead to 17 points at 35-18 with 2:50 on the clock.

The run of points for the Lions began with a layup by McIntosh, then came a jumper by Friend and a turnaround jumper by McIntosh. Next was a two-point basket by Gabe Fouch (with the assist by Griffin Friend), followed by a one-handed shot made by McIntosh with 2:50 left in the third for the 17-point advantage, forcing a 30-second timeout by Manchester.

For the remainder of the quarter (2:14 was left in the frame), the Lions had points by McIntosh, Griffin Friend and House, as House connected with a 3-pointer with 9.0 left in the frame for a 23-point FHS lead and a 44-21 score. 

The Lions began the fourth with free throws by McIntosh, and after Applegate added points for the Greyhounds, the Lions scored points off baskets by Fouch, Larkin Friend, McIntosh and House, putting the FHS lead to 31 points. 

The rest of the fourth saw the Lions have baskets made by House, Larkin Friend and Dane Hodson, who scored two points off a layup as he went around defenders. 

Other final scoring totals for the Lions included: Fouch (four), Hodson (two) and Griffin Friend (two).

Manchester was led by Applegate with 15 points.

No. 2 seeded Fairfield (21-3) will play in the district finals on Friday, March 8 at 8:15 p.m. against No. 3 seeded Federal Hocking (18-6) at the Ohio University Convocation Center in Athens. 

“I think this is the year,” Williams said of the district title. “We've put in a lot of work. It's been a long time. They've worked their butts off for the last six years for me, and they deserve it.”

    03 13 05 12 — 33
FHS    18 07 19 18 — 62

FAIRFIELD (62) — L.Friend 3 (0) 6-6 12, T.House 3 (2) 0-0 12, L.McIntosh 5 (2) 6-6 22, D.Hodson 1 (0) 0-0 2, G.Fouch 2 (0) 0-0 4, G.Friend 1 (0) 0-0 2, C.Miller 1 (2) 0-0 8. TOTALS: 16 (6) 12-12 62.

MANCHESTER (33) — P.Hayslip 2 (0) 0-0 4, B.Roberts 0 (0) 1-2 1, C.Darnell 3 (1) 1-2 10, L.Applegate 3 (3) 0-1 15, M.Bayless 1 (0) 0-0 2, D.Kennedy 0 (0) 1-2 1. TOTALS: 9 (4) 3-7 33.

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