Adena entered the District Semifinals averaging 51.6 ppg (20 games) and was allowing just 38.3 ppg. before Saturday.
This game was the 18th time this season that Fairfield had scored 50 or more points in a game, and it was the 10th time that he had held an opponent to 40 points or less in a game as it was the 23rd game of the season. .
“I’m so proud of the kids and I think our defense was great,” said Fairfield head coach Jeremy McGraw. “Any time you can hold a team under 40 in the district semi-finals, you’ve played hard. Someone asked me what our identity was today, and I said it was a half-court man-to-man defense, and let’s stop and see what happens, and it’s is what we did.
“We went out, played aggressive and adapted their physicality early on and kind of got them out of rhythm and attack. I told the girls after the game that I’m proud of them because they trusted us, our scouting report and what we wanted to do to them defensively and executed it. I couldn’t be more proud of them on this part.
In a tough physical game between the two sectional champions, it was No. 4-seeded Fairfield who got the upper hand early, fending off four lead changes in the first five minutes of action to eventually lead the Lady Warriors – the away team on the scoreboard – by a score of 12-6 after the first frame, with FHS scoring the last seven points of the first quarter in 2:53.
It was Emma Fouch who scored first in the game as the eldest sank a 3-pointer 12 seconds into the game. Fouch led the Lady Lions with 21 points in the game as she is the second all-time leading scorer in Fairfield women’s basketball history with 1,273+ points.
“Emma came out and did some early and it was confidence for her, and we ran a few sets for her,” McGraw said of Fouch’s game on Saturday. “She also understands that she needs help, and we tell our kids that we can’t just rely on (Emma) to score 30 goals a night and we’re balancing out on all levels, but she’s come out and has hit hard.
“Others have also come, and that’s what we want every night – eight, 10, 15 from several different kids – because it makes you hard to defend.”
This regular season (20 games), Fairfield averaged his top six scorers from 6.3 ppg to 16 ppg.
5-seeded Adena (18-2) took her first lead after back-to-back baskets but Ella Newkirk put the Lady Lions back in front as the senior sank a jumper with 4:33 on the clock for a lead of 5-4. Newkirk finished with six points.
Again, Adena regained the lead, but it was Fouch who answered and put Fairfield back in first place with his second 3-pointer of the game. From there, she added two free throws in the first and with 11 seconds left in the first frame, senior Madison Bronner connected with a basket in the paint after a rebound for the six-point lead of the FHS after one quarter action.
From the time Fouch completed the aforementioned trifecta at the end of the first period until the final buzzer sounded to end the game, the Lady Lions no longer trailed in the district semi-finals.
“We talked all week about how it was going to be a physical game, but what we can’t do is that Adena is doing a really good job of making contact and getting to the foul line,” McGraw said. “I told them we can’t have foul issues and we have to be smart in defence. We did a good job with that, and they let us play. It was a physical match, and I was proud of our kids for matching that physical.
The second quarter saw the Lady Lions lead the frame at 15-13 in the scoring quarter, leading to a 27-19 halftime lead. Although Adena scored the first in the second quarter, Fairfield didn’t budge in the physical battle where it was a boosted version of tournament basketball, as they went on a 7- 0 from 6:39 to 5:38. from the second frame, building their lead to 19-8.
This series of points included points in the paint of a basket handed over by Braylynn Haines, followed by Caitlyn Quickle stealing the basketball and taking it to the hoop with 6:20 on the clock.
From there, the run continued with a free throw from Fouch and a layup from Haines, who caught a pass from Quickle. Adena didn’t back down with four straight points after a timeout, only to see Fouch continue the hot streak with another 3-pointer – off a pass from Peyton Magee – for a 22-12 advantage.
Later in the frame, a basket delivered by Haines – which totaled nine points in the victory – took Fairfield again to a 10-point lead, and the final quarter score for Fairfield included a free throw and a lay-up. (on a steal) by Faith Donley for the eight-point lead at halftime at 29-17.
Fairfield won the third quarter at 8-7 with the Lady Lions leading by as many as 11 points and as many as seven, taking a 35-26 lead in the fourth quarter. Going into the fourth quarter, Fairfield had points in the third by Newkirk on two layups, a jumper by Fouch and two points in the paint by Haines.
Again the Lady Lions won a quarter by scoring, as the fourth quarter saw them lead Adena 15-12 for the 12-point win at 50-38.
Fairfield knocked down two 3-pointers in the first half of the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer from Bronner from the corner, with Newkirk’s assist handing the ball to Bronner – who finished with seven points – on a pass without looking. After Magee drew an offensive foul from Adena, it was Fouch who sank a 3-pointer with 4:04 left in regulation for a 41-28 lead.
With 2:42 left in the fourth, Magee made two free throws, and as the game ended, Fouch had a three-point game, Bronner made two free throws, and ending the game scoring for Fairfield were free throws made by Haines and Fouché.
Kierra Williams, Sydney Ater and Cheyenne Ater led Adena with eight points apiece. AHS was 6 of 12 from the free throw line (50%) in the loss. They made a total of 16 two-pointers and no 3-pointers.
Fairfield finished with 12 two-pointers, five 3-pointers (four by Fouch), and was 11 of 17 (65%) from the free throw line.
Fairfield (20-3) are now playing for a chance at a District Championship, having last won a District Championship in 1994. They are set to face the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates (22-0) on Friday February 25 at 6:30 p.m. in Waverly.
“One of our goals has been to go to the district championship and see what happens,” McGraw said. “The girls reacted well. As for Wheelersburg, knowing what kind of game they are going to play after seeing them today against North Adams, we will see what happens next Friday.
This tournament, Fairfield also beat Westfall (49-18) and Oak Hill (51-31). Wheelersburg has won tournaments against Ironton (53-32) and North Adams (42-40).