The Fairfield girls basketball team went into halftime on Thursday night with a two point lead on Southern Hills Athletic Conference opponent Manchester but were outscored 24-6 in the third, leading to a 52-35 defeat at the hands of the Lady Hounds.
Fairfield’s Heather Cox had an impressive outing scoring 21 points, 14 of those coming in the first half. However, the Lady Lions found themselves forcing the ball into her in the third quarter, which led to turnovers and Manchester baskets.
“We couldn’t run our offense efficiently in the second half.” said Lady Lions coach Chad Hamilton. “Heather was a point scorer for us in the first, but [Manchester made some adjustments at halftime and she wasn’t as big an option in the second. Our girls kept trying to force the ball into her instead of looking for other options in the offense.”
The first two quarters were relatively close as Manchester took the first quarter 12-11 and the Lady Lions won took back the lead and went into the half up 22-20.
The third quarter is the one that did the Lady Lions in. Manchester came out of halftime a team on a mission. That mission was to score and to score often. The Lady Hounds scored seven straight points before Fairfield could answer with one of their own. At 5:22, Kaitlin Evans finally ended the streak by dribbling the ball past all five Manchester defender and flipping up the layup making it 27-24 Lady Hounds. Manchester scored at 5:01 on a made basket and foul, but failed to complete the three point play, missing the free throw. Coach Hamilton called a timeout to let his team have a breather and regain their focus with five minutes left to play in the game.
The Lady Hounds weren’t slowing down though. At 4:43, Manchester made another basket making it 31-24. Evans came down the court and drove to the lane and put up a shot scoring two for her team to make it 31-26. But the Lady Hounds scored two more times, including a three pointer to make it 36-26, prompting another Fairfield timeout. At this point, the Fairfield was being outscored in the quarter 16-4.
Fairfield was only able to manage one more basket before the end of the quarter, this one by Heather Cox, while Manchester made four more baskets bringing the tally of the quarter to 44-28.
The fourth quarter was relatively quiet, as Manchester scored eight points and Fairfield put up seven, five of those coming from Cox.
“It was a tale of two halves tonight.” Fairfield’s coach Hamilton said after the loss. “We played very well in the first. Our offense was very effective against their zone and we we went into the half with a two point lead. The second half we just melted, and it wasn’t because of pressure either. We just could run our offense efficiently and kept looking for something that wasn’t there anymore.”
“I think we could have pushed the ball a little more tonight.” Hamilton continued. “We could have had a lot more transition buckets but the girls have a tendency to slow down even when they have a clear hole to the basket.”
The Lady Lions will travel to Ripley on Monday to take on the Lady Blue Jays in another SHAC matchup.
MHS – 12 8 24 8 - 52
FHS – 11 11 6 7 – 35
Manchester: H. Rideout 9 0/2 – 18, R. Casey 5 5/7 – 15, M. Johnson 3 2/4 – 8, T. Burns 3 – 6. Totals: 21(1) 7/13 – 52
Fairfield: H. Cox 9 1/3 – 21, K. Evans 3(1) – 9, S. Smithson 2 – 4. Totals: 14(1) 4/6 – 35.