LEESBURG — A dominant second-half performance paced Fairfield Friday night in a 70-48 victory over East Clinton in the season opener for both teams.
East Clinton rallied from an eight-point deficit in the second quarter to take a 30-28 advantage into the locker room.
However, the Lions turned defense into offense in the second half to turn a nailbiter into a rout.
A 12-0 run late in the third quarter turned a one-point Lion lead into a 49-36 advantage. They mostly did it off the fast break.
It was either steals that turned into layups, or the Fairfield defense holding the Astros to one shot and out. The Lions took the defensive rebounds and quickly pushed it up the floor.
EC head coach Tony Berlin said his team didn’t have the same intensity in the second half as it did during the second-quarter comeback.
“It looked like they were running fast break drills against us,” Berlin said. “Our stamina just wasn’t there. That being said, Leesburg has a very good team. They’ve got a lot of weapons and they’re very well-coached.”
After getting high-quality shots in the second quarter to erase an early deficit, the Astros couldn’t find the same opportunities in the third, and Fairfield gradually pulled away in the fourth.
Fairfield made 20 of 35 shot attempts in the second half, compared to just 8 of 28 for the Astros. The Lions outrebounded the Astros 24-12 in the final 16 minutes and had eight assists to just two for EC.
Branson Smith had a monster first half for the Astros, scoring 20 points. He finished with 27 points to lead all scorers.
Bryson Simmons led the Lions with 25 points. James Bentley had a double-double, scoring 18 points and pulling down 13 rebounds.
Despite the tough second half, there were positives to build off of for the Astros.
“We show signs of being a very good team and being able to beat anybody,” Berlin said. “That 32-minute intensity isn’t there yet. We saw some bright spots.”
Friday, November 29, 2019
At Fairfield HS
Fairfield 70, East Clinton 48
(48) EAST CLINTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Branson Smith 10-3-4-27, Dakota Cullum 2-0-1-5, Landon Runyon 2-0-0-4, Quinten Tolle 3-0-1-7, Dylan Peterman 1-0-1-3, Matt Hall 1-0-0-2. TOTALS 19-3-7-48.
(70) FAIRFIELD (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Reese Teeters 3-0-0-6, Tytis Cannon 2-1-0-5, Wyatt Willey 2-2-0-6, Bryson Simmons 12-1-0-25, Conner Priest 3-0-0-6, Tucker Watson 2-0-0-4, James Bentley 7-0-4-18. TOTALS 31-4-4-70.
FIELD GOALS: EC 19/51 (Smith 10/21, Tolle 3/8); F 31/62 (Simmons 12/24, Bentley 7/11)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: EC 3/9 (Smith 3/4); F 4/16 (Willey 2/5)
FREE THROWS: EC 7/11 (Smith 4/5); F 4/5 (Bentley 4/5)
REBOUNDS: EC 28 (Runyon 6, Tolle 5, Smith 4, Hall 3); F 38 (Bentley 13, Willey 8, Simmons 4)
ASSISTS: EC 5 (Tolle 4); F 14 (Simmons 5, Willey 3)
STEALS: EC 4 (Smith 2); F 8 (Cannon 3)
BLOCKED SHOTS: EC 1 (Tolle); F 5 (Willey 3, Bentley 2)
TURNOVERS: EC 18; F 11
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton.