The Fairifeld Lions traveled to Northwest High School on Wednesday to take on the Portsmouth-Clay Panthers in a Sectional Semi-Final game.
In the first quarter the teams jockeyed for position over the first 5:15 of game time as they were tied three times and neither team lead by more than four points.
Cody Gragg broke a 13-13 tie with 2:15 to play and the Lions closed the first quarter on a 5-2 run to take a 18-15 lead into the second quarter.
Fairfield cracked down on the defensive side of the ball in the second quarter as they held the Panthers to only four points. Meanwhile the Lions put up 14 points, and saw five different players score as Fairfield extended their lead to 32-19 at halftime.
The Lions extended the lead in the third quarter as Tucker Ayres opened the quarter with a personal run of 7-0 when he hit back to back three pointers from the wing and sunk one of two free throws to give Fairfield a 39-19 lead.
The Lions extended the lead to 25 points in the third quarter at 52-27 and finished the quarter with a 4-0 run to claim a 56-29 lead after three quarters of play. The Lions defense held the Panthers to 10 points in the frame.
Fairfield head coach Josh Howland talked after the game about the Impact that Ayres has on the team and his commitment to be good.
“First of all Tucker is probably the most committed athlete I have seen at any level. He stays two hours after practice daily and he has for years. That is why you feel confident that at some point he is going to go off and score some points. His outburst at the beginning of the third allowed us to get subs in and give some other guys some rest which is what we wanted to do,” said Howland.
Midway through the fourth quarter Sam Buddlemeyer iced the game with back-to-back layups after Portsmouth-Clay had gone on a 5-0 run. The Panthers managed to outscore the Lions 14-13 in the quarter but it made no difference as the Lions cruised to a 69-43 win.
The Lions advance to play again at Northwest High School on Wednesday, February 28 when they will take on Glenwood in the Sectional Finals.
Fairfield: Gragg 4(1)-1/1-12; Setty 1-1/2-3; Buddlemeyer 7-1/2-15; Willey 1-5/6-7; Simmons 1-2; Irvin 1-2; Ayres 3(2)-3/4-15; Saunders 0/2-0; Bentley 5-3/4-13
Portsmouth-Clay: Hudson 2/2-2; Cline 2-2/4-6; Mathias 3(1)-6/6-15; Whitley 2(2)-10; Cottle (1)-3; Beagan 2-4; Woods (1)-3
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.