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Regional Semifinal Preview: Fairfield, South Webster set for SE District battle 

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Fairfield senior Trey House is pictured in the Lions' district final win. Also pictured is senior Cade Miller. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

LEESBURG — There will be a battle of Southeast District champions in the Division IV Regional Semifinals this Tuesday night (March 12) at 8 p.m. when the Fairfield Lions and South Webster Jeeps step onto the court of the Ohio University Bobcats at the Convocation Center in Athens.

The regional semifinal game will be the first for the Lions since 2014, and the first for the Jeeps since 2013, as each team won their respective SE District championship this past Friday. 

This will also be the fourth time in program history the Lions have played in the Round of 16, as the 1977-78 Fairfield team is the only team in program history to advance to the Elite 8 with a regional win over Ross Southeastern, 54-42 in what was then the Class A Tournament.  

Fast-forward to 2024, the Lions (22-3) defeated Federal Hocking 56-52 in an epic and memorable game in the district finals, winning their first district title since 2014. The Jeeps (22-3) defeated the Trimble Tomcats by a 51-34 score to win their first district championship since 2013, plus head coach Norm Persin earned his 800th career victory in the district final win, as he’s also the OPSWA All-Southeast District Coach of the Year.

Looking back at the postseason of Fairfield — who are coached by Quentin Williams — they won their sectional final game against Whiteoak (63-27), followed by the two wins in the district round against Manchester (62-33) and the aforementioned win over the Lancers of Federal Hocking. 

South Webster this postseason has built a tournament run that began with a 72-40 win in the sectional finals against Ironton St. Joseph Central, followed by district round wins over Symmes Valley (62-47) and their most recent win over Trimble. 

This season, the Jeeps began the year with nine consecutive wins before losing to Wheelersburg 71-61 on Jan. 5. From there, they lost to Minford on Jan. 9 (58-55), then won their next eight games before their third – and most recent loss – to Notre Dame (Feb. 13) by a 67-57 score. SWHS is currently on a five-game winning streak. 

Fairfield this season won their first 16 games of the season before their first loss (against North Adams on Jan. 26). FHS responded with a win, then two consecutive losses (vs. Fayetteville and Miami Trace), before starting their current winning streak of five straight games.

The Jeeps have the 2023-24 OPSWA SE District Player of the Year, Eli Roberts, on their roster, and the 6-8 junior in South Webster’s first 24 games averaged 23.6 points per game and 8.7 rebounds per game. In those 24 games, Roberts has scored 567 points, making 43 3-pointers, shooting 77-percent from the free-throw line and is averaging 58 percent from the field in his two-point shot attempts. 

Roberts also has 208 total rebounds this season, with 44 assists, 29 steals, 48 blocks, and he’s collected 12 double-doubles this season. 

The Jeeps also have senior Tyler Sommer (6-3, first-team All-District) who is averaging 14.7 ppg, with 6.5 rpg and 2.2 apg as he has scored 353 points this season, including making 43 3-pointers. Also for SWHS, junior Dylan Shupert averages 5.9 ppg (All-District honorable mention), and senior Jack Timothy averages 7.5 ppg. 

The Lions come into the regional semifinal game with senior Larkin Friend — an OPSWA SE District first-team All-District selection — averaging a double-double with 15 ppg and 10 rpg, plus 7.4 apg and 1.4 bpg. Friend has scored 374 points in 25 games played this season, totaling 251 rebounds and collecting 186 assists.

FHS also has a third-team OPSWA All-District selection, junior Logan McIntosh averaging 12.7 ppg and 5.0 rpg this season, and also in double figures in scoring average is senior – and second-team OPSWA All-District selection – Trey House with 10.9 ppg and 4.0 rpg. There is also senior Gabe Fouch with 8.2 ppg (3.5 rpg, 2.0 apg), and senior Cade Miller with 6.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg and 1.7 apg. 

In comparison, Fairfield is averaging 58.8 ppg, while SWHS averages 62.1 ppg. The two teams are close in rebounds per game with the Lions at 28.5 and the Jeeps at 29.9 rpg. The same can be said about assists per game, with FHS with 16.8 and SWHS at 14.0. The Lions are a bit better in steals per game, with FHS averaging 8.0 and South Webster at 5.7 spg. The Jeeps are ahead in blocks per game, with 3.4 and the Lions coming in at 2.8 bpg. 

Free throw comparisons show the Lions at 70.9 percent from the free-throw line this season (173-244) and the Jeeps at 65 percent (244-375). The two teams shoot close from beyond the arc, with the Lions at 30 percent and SWHS at 34 percent. From the field overall, the Jeeps come in at 48 percent (565-1,187), while the Lions are 46 percent (579-1,236).

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