Fairfield riding quiet confidence into regional final against top-ranked Centerville

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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. Maybe a fist pump.

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.

“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.

Fairfield will next play state No. 1 Centerville in today’s regional final, a rematch of last year’s regional final that Fairfield lost.

“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.”

Crim, Coney and Rogers combined to score 41 of the Indians’ 51 points. But it ultimately was a veteran-like assist from Crim that proved to be the play of the night.

Open 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 on, it’s not,’” Wyrick smirked postgame.

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