DAYTON — Fairfield High School boys basketball coach DJ Wyrick sent verbal game balls throughout the locker room at University of Dayton Arena on Saturday night.
“Each and every one of you guys made an impact,” he said.
But Wyrick distinctly highlighted the defensive effort from junior Mason King, who was tasked with manning Greater Western Ohio Conference leading scorer Lawrent Rice.
King held Rice below his scoring average, Deshawne Crim exploded for a game-high 31 points and Fairfield beat Wayne 76-51 to capture its second straight Division I district title.
“I felt like our defense set the tone. We were aggressive defensively,” Wyrick said. “Rice is obviously a tremendous player. We were just trying to make him uncomfortable, and we were trying to send chaos at him all night — traps, doubles. Whatever we could do to try and make him get rid of the ball, we were doing.”
Rice came in averaging 26 points a contest. The Murray State commit only scored seven in the first half and finished with 18 for the game.
Wyrick said that resulted in a more efficient offense as senior Ray Coney added 15 points for the Indians, who own a seven-game winning streak.
“You look at a guy like Mason King, who really embraces that roll,” Wyrick said before noting that Michael Lewis coming off the bench added to Fairfield’s defensive spark. “Those guys played really good defensively. Then flip side on offense, Crim had an outstanding game. Ray Coney had a really good game finishing well at the rim.”
The Indians took a 13-10 lead into the second quarter before they got into their element offensively. Crim scored 10 consecutive points during a Fairfield 14-0 run to start the second quarter, and the Indians owned a 27-10 lead with 4:20 left before the half.
“I thought we were a little nervous early on just with the environment and the atmosphere,” Wyrick said. “But once we settled in, these guys kind of separated themselves and had really good games.”
Wayne’s Jared Furlow hit a free throw to halt the Fairfield scoring spurt, making it 27-11. That was the closest the game would get the rest of the way.
“It was a great win. Everyone came out and contributed and played hard,” Crim said. “I love my guys, and I’m glad we came out ready to go.”
Fairfield senior Aamir Rogers was slapped with his fourth foul early in the second half and only saw the court for 15 minutes, but he had six points and nine rebounds. Lewis also contributed six points for the Indians, who fired 25 of 44 (56.8%) from the floor.
“The up and down pace — we obviously want to play that. But we had to play a little differently tonight because of Aamir’s foul trouble,” Wyrick said. “He was really doing a great job of impacting the game. But when he went out, we kind of adjusted some things we had to do offensively.
“Ray had to play big a little bit more. He stepped up and was ready,” Wyrick added. “That’s the nice thing about this group is that you have seniors who understand, ‘Now I’m switching over here. I know what to do in this position, too.’ It’s a really good thing for us.”
Juan Crawford had 13 for the Warriors, who were outscored in the paint 40-20. Fairfield converted 20 points off turnovers, while Wayne had four.
Fairfield moves on to face Princeton for a third meeting this season, this time in a regional semifinal on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Xavier’s Cintas Center.
“The fun thing about Princeton is that those games are always exciting and intense — a lot of energy,” Wyrick said. “I’m sure it will be the same down there. I’m sure they’ll be fired up. Our guys will be fired up. It will be a really good game.”
The Indians (22-4) won both games against the Vikings (19-7) during the regular season — a 68-57 home victory on Dec. 9 and a 66-43 away triumph on Feb. 10.
“We’re ready to play Princeton again,” Crim said. “We’re ready to go, and we’re just ready to have fun. We’re ready to keep going and make our name bigger than what it already is.”
IN THE KNOW
Fairfield took down Wayne 51-42 in the regional semifinals a year ago before falling to Centerville in the regional final. … Elder beat Fairmont, Centerville defeated Anderson and Princeton took down Moeller in the other district final contests. … Centerville plays Elder at 6 p.m. on Wednesdayat Xavier. That winner will play the Fairfield-Princeton winner in a regional final at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Xavier.