Fairfield holds off Lakota East rally to take control of GMC

One of Fairfield’s boys’ basketball players asked coach Darren Wyrick at halftime of the Indians’ Greater Miami Conference game at Lakota East on Friday how they were going to stop Thunderhawks’ senior Nate Johnson, who already had 13 points.

“‘Well, we can try, but if we do what we did in the first half, he can score 30 and we can still win’ – and that’s what happened,” Wyrick said after Fairfield held off a determined Thunderhawks’ comeback to squeeze out a 60-57 win that solidified the Indians’ hold on first place in the GMC.

The 6-foot-3 Johnson, last season’s GMC player of the year, scored exactly 30 points, including a career-high four 3-pointers. He poured in 17 after halftime, leading Lakota East back from a 17-point second-quarter deficit to a 57-57 tie with 45 seconds left in regulation. But sophomore guard Deshawne Crim sank two free throws with 23.2 seconds left and senior forward Logan Murphy added one with 5.7 seconds remaining to help Fairfield snap a 10-game losing streak against Lakota East.

Junior guard Logan Woods led three Indians in double figures with 17 points, just ahead of Crim’s 15. Sophomore guard Ray Coney added 10 for Fairfield, which improved to 5-0 in the GMC and created some breathing room over 3-1 Lakota East and Mason.

Fairfield’s 5-0 conference start is the best since the 2003-2004 season.

“We’re just glad to be first in the GMC,” Woods said. “It seems like a long time. We just want to keep going forward.”

The Indians also improved to 6-3 overall. They are one win away from matching last season’s total.

Wyrick knows the Indians still have a long road ahead, but a win over the two-time defending champion on its home court could be significant.

“This league this year is very balanced,” he said. “I keep telling everybody that the championship belongs to East until somebody takes it away. We just have to continue to work hard and try to get better every day. We’re only five games in. It’s the team that plays well in games six through 16 that will win the league.”

Fairfield is scheduled to play a GMC game at Middletown on Tuesday, while Lakota East is due to play at Mason.

The Thunderhawks and Indians are scheduled to meet at Fairfield on Feb. 9.

Crim sank two 3-pointers from the left corner while Fairfield was opening up a 12-0 lead. That Lakota Each coach Clint Adkins didn’t call a timeout surprised some onlookers, but not his players, who earlier plodded through a game-day walk-through.

“I told them, ‘If you take this for granted, it’s going to come back to bite you,’” Adkins said after the game. “I told them I wasn’t going to bail them out. I wasn’t going to call a timeout. They (Fairfield) ran everything we expected them to run. Oh, there might have been a wrinkle or two, but that’s what happens when you don’t read the scouting reports and you don’t watch film. We just had a lack of focus.”

While Johnson was going 4-for-6 from the field in the first half, the rest of the Thunderhawks were shooting 2-for-9. The Indians took their largest lead, 32-15, on junior forward Owen Bronston’s 3-pointer with 1:58 left in the half.

Junior guard Kobe Peck scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half as Lakota East chipped away at the lead. The Thunderhawks tied it on the second of back-to-back Johnson 3-pointers – the only time Fairfield didn’t lead.

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