With a current record of 16-2, the Fairfield High School Lady Lions basketball team has a No. 12 ranking in the latest Associated Press (AP) poll for Ohio’s Division III.
The Lady Lions were ranked No. 10 in the previous two AP polls.
“Our girls know the work that they’ve put in, and they deserve the ranking,” said Jeremy McGraw, the team’s coach. “They’ve put in the hard work. They’ve worked to this point, and we’ve talked about it very briefly that it’s a great accomplishment for these kids.”
He said the team’s success serves as an inspiration for future players. “I feel like it’s a program builder — something to build for these younger kids to see what to work for and that hard work does pay off. For the program as a whole, it’s a huge accomplishment.”
The Lady Lions have two games left in the season before competing in the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Division III Girls Basketball Sectional Tournament. They face North Adams High School on Thursday and Peebles High School on Monday. Both games are on the road.
McGraw said the intensity of competition will increase following the team’s AP ranking.
“When you get that ranking, you’re going to get every team’s best shot,” he said. “We’ve got a really good tournament draw, I feel. We got the four seed in the tournament draw, and we’ve got two regular season games left. We’ve got to come in to practice and work hard and prepare and be ready for everybody’s best shot.”
The team is planning for success in the upcoming tournament. “Our goal at this point is to make a tournament run, and that’s very achievable, and that starts on Feb. 10th,” said McGraw. “We have Wellston here at home, and we’ve put ourselves in the position to get a home game in the first round, so our goal is to win as many tournament games as possible and to prepare and just get better night in and night out.”
McGraw said he considers Emma Fouch, Ella Newkirk, Braylynn Haines, Madison Bronner and Peyton Magee to be among the team’s leaders.
“All 14 girls have contributed to this ranking,” he said. “The freshman and sophomores have done a lot in practice and in game times to prepare us for that ranking, so all 14 have done a heck of a job to get us to where we need to be.”
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.