Boys Basketball

Fairfield has been here once before, sets focus on top-ranked Centerville

CINCINNATI — His demeanor once the final horn blared wasn’t glamorous Wednesday night. And it wasn’t flashy.

It was just subtle.

DJ Wyrick watched his Fairfield High School boys basketball team fight off Greater Miami Conference rival Princeton for a third time this season — this go-round was in a Division I regional semifinal at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.

The fourth-year Indians coach clapped a couple times, turned to the bench and smiled. I think there may have been a fist pump in there.

But that was basically it. No jumping around. No screaming. No yelling.

It was a representation of the guys manning the floor the last couple of years. There’s been an understanding that Wyrick’s go-to seniors — Deshawne Crim, Ray Coney and Aamir Rogers — get it. 

They’ve been here before. They understand what situation they’re in, and Wyrick is simply the guider who’s along for the ride this season.

“Our goal was to get back to this game, and we did it,” he said of reaching the regional final for the second straight season.

The Indians have all the momentum they need heading into top-ranked Centerville on Saturday, and what’s accompanying them is an eight-game winning streak.

The Elks sent the Indians packing in this exact state-bound or go-home circumstance a year ago.

But something’s different right about now.

“I’d say last year’s team might have had more overall individual talent,” Wyrick said at a practice earlier this week. “But I think this is a better team in terms of playing together.”

That ideology resonated during — without a doubt — Fairfield’s toughest postseason test in Princeton.
Crim, Coney and Rogers combined to score 41 of the Indians’ 51 points. Of course, all of those points amount to some importance in the long run.

But it ultimately was a veteran-like assist from Crim that proved to be the play of the night. The type of play a seasoned senior should make. And an unselfish one at that.

Crim clamored to an official that he was physically being taken out of the game in any possible way the Vikings could.

I heard him, and I heard the tone in his frustration.

“They’re grabbing my jersey,” he said at one point during Wednesday night’s affair.

Crim had attracted four Princeton players as he drove across the lane and into the key.

Easy math. Someone’s got to be open right? There was. It was sophomore guard Michael Lewis, who hadn’t seen the stats column in 10 of Fairfield’s previous games.

Lewis averaged 8.4 minutes all season, and he saw more than double that Wednesday night — for good reason.

“We’ve been able to grow our depth,” Wyrick said. “To be fair, we can run 10 guys an entire game.”

Once the Vikings hovered around Crim inside the paint, he spotted Lewis — who was waiting for his chance behind the arc.

“Coach told me not to shoot the ball,” said Lewis, who caught Crim’s pass with under a minute left to play and the score tied at 43.

“But I had confidence, and I just shot the ball. I knew it was going in. Everybody knew it was going in. I shot it. I made it, and it was all hype.”

But Wyrick didn’t seem to care. It was already a done deal.

Lewis made it, and that powered the Indians in the final seconds.

“It was one of those, ‘If it goes in, it’s a great shot. If it doesn’t go in, it’s not,'” Wyrick smirked postgame.

Nothing glamorous. Nothing flashy. Just a successful, subtle way of getting to the regional finals.

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