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Fairfield Lions’ season ended by Jeeps in regional semifinals

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Fairfield senior Trey House led the Lions with a game-high 17 points in their regional semifinal loss to South Webster, Tuesday at the Ohio University Convocation Center. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

ATHENS — A valiant comeback effort by the Fairfield Lions was just a few points short of making history for the program, as they lost in the Division IV Regional Semifinals Tuesday night to the South Webster Jeeps, 48-45 at the Ohio University Convocation Center. 

The Lions (22-4) and Jeeps (23-3) entered the game as respective champions of the SE District, and on Tuesday, neither team disappointed as each had their high moments and each team had some struggles. Ultimately the Jeeps prevailed with a defense that fouled the Lions in the final 10 seconds, not letting Fairfield get off a clean shot in an attempt to tie the score and to force overtime, resulting in a three-point loss for FHS. 

Fairfield trailed by six points entering the second half, as they tied the score with 4:31 left in the third, beginning the quarter with a basket by Trey House (with the assist by Larkin Friend), followed by a layup by Friend that was assisted by House with 5:10 on the clock. After a South Webster turnover, the Lions tied the score as Friend scored two points on a put-back basket, which was a one-handed shot, for a 24-24 score. 

Under 30 seconds later, the Jeeps tied the score with a big-time 3-pointer from Elijah Roberts, as it ended up being a four-point play as he made the falling shot while being fouled. Roberts took the tied game, and following the trey and ensuing free throw make, put South Webster ahead by four points at 28-24 with 4:09 left on the third-quarter clock. 

The 6-8 Roberts followed with a block on defense, and teammate Hunter Barnard scored two points, putting the Jeeps ahead by six points. 

The Lions got back to within three points of tying the score in the third, as they had basket by House (a three-point play), a layup off an inbounds pass by Logan McIntosh, and they ended the frame with a jumper by House with the assist by Friend for the 34-31 score. 

Then came the wild fourth frame where the Lions got to within one point of tying the score on two occasions, and within two points of tying the score with once, but in the end, the Jeeps did enough to hold on to their lead and move on to the “Elite 8.” 

After SWHS scored first in the fourth frame, it was Cade Miller sinking a basket for the Lions, but two more baskets by the Jeeps put them ahead by six points at 40-34 with 6:13 left in regulation. 

Next was a layup by Friend, and though the Jeeps took an eight-point lead with three straight baskets, the Lions continued to battle with a layup by Friend, followed by winning a jump ball, then a drive to the hoop by Friend for a bucket. The Lions got to within a point of the Jeeps with 1:27 left in the fourth following a 3-pointer from Gabe Fouch, followed by the Lions calling a timeout. 

The Jeeps scored another basket, this one by Dylan Shupert, and Fairfield answered with a basket by Friend with 32 seconds left in the game. SWHS made two free throws off shots by Christian White, and from there the Lions were fouled multiple times, never reaching the line or getting off a clean shot as time expired at the regional semifinals, ending their season. 

Shots wouldn’t fall for the Lions in the first half, as they were 6-of-20 from the field and 4-of-10 from beyond the arc, adding up to a combined 30 percent from the field, compared to 55.6 percent from the field for the Jeeps, as they were 10-of-18 from the field and 1-of-4 from beyond the arc in the first half. 

The Jeeps opened the game with a 10-0 run with points from Jack Timothy, Tyler Sommer, Roberts and White for the 10-point lead with 2:11 left in the first quarter. The Lions responded with their first points of the game — a 3-pointer by McIntosh — at the 1:08 mark for a 10-3 score. Next came two made free throws by House, but the Jeeps ended the first frame with a 3-pointer by Roberts with 2.0 on the clock for a 13-5 lead. 

Fairfield won the second frame at 13-11, leaving their deficit at halftime at six points.

McIntosh started the second frame with a trey from the corner with 7:39 on the second-quarter clock, only to see the Jeeps add four points, leading 17-8 with 5:37 left in the second. The Lions responded with two put-back baskets in less than a minute with points from House and Friend. 

One minute later, the Jeeps called a timeout, and they came back with a three-point play, taking an eight-point lead at 20-12 with 3:30 left in the first half. The Lions answered with a 3-pointer from House (assisted by Friend, who passed the ball from the paint to the 3-point line), but the next four points were scored by the Jeeps for a nine-point FHS deficit. 

Fairfield ended the second frame with a 3-pointer by House with 26 seconds on the clock, as the halftime score saw the Lions trail by six points at 24-18. 

House led the Lions with 17 points, making two 3-pointers. He also collected three rebounds. 

Friend followed with 14 points, four rebounds and four steals. 

The rest of the FHS scoring included: McIntosh (8), Fouch (3) and Miller (3). 

South Webster was led by Roberts with 15 points and three rebounds. Sommer totaled 11 points, and the rest of the Jeeps’ scoring included: White (6),  Shupert (6), Barnard (6), Jack Timothy (2) and Brock Campbell (2). 

For the game Fairfield shot 18-of-41 from the field for 43.9-percent, and South Webster shot 20-of-35 for 57.1-percent. From the free-throw line, the Lions were 3-of-3 as a team, and SWHS went 6-of-6. 

Seniors for Fairfield are: Larkin Friend, Trey House, Gabe Fouch, Janre Lerio, Britton Campbell and Cade Miller. 

Fairfield ends the 2023-24 season as Frontier Athletic Conference Div. II champions, sectional champions and SE District champions, reaching the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in program history. 

       05 13 13 14 — 45
SWHS    13 11 10 14 — 48

SOUTH WEBSTER (48) — E.Roberts 4 (2) 1-1 15, C.White 2 (0) 2-2 6, J.Timothy 1 (0) 0-0 2, T.Sommer 4 (0) 3-3 11, D.Shupert 3 (0) 0-0 6, H.Barnard 3 (0) 0-0 6, B.Campbell 1 (0) 0-0 2. TOTALS: 18 (2) 6-6 48. 

FAIRFIELD (45) — L.Friend 7 (0) 0-0 14, T.House 4 (2) 3-3 17, L.McIntosh 1 (2) 0-0 8, G.Fouch 0 (1) 0-0 3, C.Miller 0 (1) 0-0 3. TOTALS: 12 (6) 3-3 45. 

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