Adkins had high praise for sophomore Nate Johnson, who went 3-of-3 from the field, scored eight points, dished out six assists and had two hammer dunks
“We know what Nate is capable of,” Adkins said. “He had a couple of really nice takes tonight. He didn’t slow up. He went in and hammered the ball. Those are man-type plays, Division I-type plays. For us to make a run, he has to do that more often.”
“We played a good opponent, but I had to pick it up,” Johnson said of his dunks. “We didn’t play our best defense tonight, but did enough to get the W.”
Fairfield was led by Zavian Ricks 14 points. Steven Taylor had eight and Devin Turner added six as the Tribe fell to 6-11, 3-8 GMC.
FHS trailed 27-22 late in the third quarter, but watched East rattle off a 15-3 run to end the stanza, aided by the big seven-point swing in the last second.
In a disastrous moment for the Indians, Johnston was fouled shooting a 3 with 1.4 seconds left, and while shooting his first of three freebies, the Indians were hit with a technical. Johnston calmly buried all five free throws, and the Thunderhawks capped off the sequence with a perfectly executed pass to Wieland for a bucket at the buzzer.
Adkins called the end of the quarter an obvious big swing, while Fairfield coach Jeff Sims chose to pick his words wisely, pointing out the big 3s East hit at the end of the first half to forge a 22-16 lead.
With two minutes left in the first half, the game was tied at 16 before Wieland and Kaden Fuhrmann each nailed triples.
“We are now down six and felt we played a great half,” Sims said. “The end of the third quarter, I am not going to say much about that. A seven-point second, what else can you say?”
In addition, Adkins and Sims both agreed the play of Holtman in the third quarter was a big factor.
“Huge,” Sims said. “They have weapons, so we said, ‘If he makes them, he makes them,’ and he made them. He was big. You need people to step in and make plays, and he did.”
“Nick Holtman, who they were not covering at all, stepped up and made some big shots to give us some momentum,” Adkins said.
Holtman hit two big 3s to put East up 10 before the meltdown at the end of the third quarter extended the lead to 42-25.
The Thunderhawks’ biggest advantage was 52-33 after Johnson’s second dunk, a two-handed hammer after going down the middle of the lane uncovered.
East hit 9-of-17 field goals in the second half, 18-of-41 for the game. The Thunderhawks sank seven 3-pointers and went 9-of-9 from the foul line.
Fairfield finished the game 15-of-31 from the field and outrebounded East 21-19, but continues to be haunted by bad stretches.
“We just have to overcome those stretches,” Sims said. “You don’t get breaks sometimes, and we don’t handle it.”
The Thunderhawks travel to Colerain Friday, while Fairfield hosts Oak Hills.
Lakota East 6-16-20-10—52
LAKOTA EAST (12-4, 10-1 GMC): Nick Holtman 3 0 8; Bash Wieland 8 2 20; Will Johnston 2 5 11; Grant Spicer 1 0 2; Nate Johnson 3 2 8: Kaden Fuhrmann 1 0 3. Totals: 18-9-52
FAIRFIELD (6-11, 3-8 GMC): Devin Turner 3 0 6; Zavian Ricks 5 1 14; Logan Murphy 0 3 3; Caleb Cropenbaker 0 3 3; Malachi Scenters 1 0 2: Allen Caldwell 2 0 4; Steven Taylor 4 0 8. Totals: 15-7-40
3-pointers: L 7 (Holtman 2, Wieland 2, Johnston 2, Fuhrmann), F 3 (Ricks 3)