It took overtime to decide the Division I Regional Final at the Cintas Center on Friday night, and at the end of the night the Fairfield Indians were the team cutting down the nets. The last team in Southwest Ohio standing in the big school division the Indians now advance to their first ever Final Four........
|Brandon Murphy, Kyle Smith, Jeff Woods,|
and Coach Austing of the Regional Champions Fairfield
Fairfield 62 Middletown 49: The Indians won their first ever Regional Title and have earned the right to be the Southwestern representative in next week’s State Championships where they will face the winner of the Columbus bracket at Ohio State in the Division I Semi-Final. After a slow start from both teams Fairfield built a 26-13 lead midway through the second quarter as senior guard Kyle Smith knocked down a three pointer to bring the crowd to their feet. Middletown would battle back to within nine at the half and cut the deficit to seven on a three pointer by senior guard Geovonie McKnight as the horn sounded to end the third quarter. With 3:14 remaining in the game McKnight pulled up for a triple to bring the Middies within one at 43-42, the closest they’d been since early in the first quarter, and the purple crowd was going wild believing that a comeback was imminent. McKnight traded buckets over the next three minutes with Fairfield senior wing Jeff Woods, who knocked 10/11 free throws most of which came in the fourth and overtime, until Middletown sophomore forward Vincent Edwards nailed a three from the wing to tie the game at 48-48 with just 31 seconds left in regulation. Fairfield tried to hold for the last shot but turned the ball over as Edwards stole the ball with just over ten seconds left, the Middies turned it right back over, however, on critical over and back violation with just 8 seconds left. The Indians were unable to get a quality shot off in the last eight seconds of regulation and the table was set for overtime with Middletown feeling the momentum. Woods would give Fairfield their mojo back in overtime as he struck first with a free throw to give the Indians the lead back. The Indians would continue to convert from the foul line and build a four point lead until the Middies battled all the way back to tie the game on a McKnight hoop plus the foul to make it 53-53 with 1:14 left in overtime. Fairfield’s Kyle Smith made the play of the game after that by cutting backdoor and scoring an and-one of his own to give the Indians a 56-53 lead and just 59 seconds left on the clock. If that wasn’t the play of the game then Devon Barlow, a senior guard for Fairfield, had the top play as he stole the ball and took it coast to coast with 25 seconds left to give the Indians a 58-55 lead. McKnight would convert two more free throws and Jeff Woods would step to the line with 2.4 seconds left. Woods knocked down both shots to give the Indians the final margin at 62-59; McKnight launched a half-court shot at the buzzer that drew rim but didn’t quite fall. The Indians wildly celebrated a surprising Regional Title led by second year coach Tim Austing. Woods led Fairfield with 19 points while Smith added 16 to the scoring column. Senior post Brandon Murphy had another good game inside for the Indians with 14 points and 8 rebounds, while Barlow chipped in 8 points and 5 steals. McKnight finished off a great career with a game high 31 points, as well as 9 rebounds and 5 assists, for Middletown in the loss.