The Fairfield Lady Lions (12-11) fought for a lead in Saturday afternoon’s game against Manchester, gained it, and then almost gave it up. In the end, however, they were able to hold on and win a sectional championship by defeating their familiar Southern Hills Athletic Conference opponents 60-55.
The Lady Lions had a tough time getting things going on Saturday in the Northwest High School gymnasium to a team they had beaten 66-39 and 64-39 in the prior two times they had met. They say it’s hard to beat a team three times, and even though the game started rough, the Lady Lions did just that.
As the game started, the Manchester Lady Greyhounds took a small lead of 12-9 over the Fairfield girls. The Lady Lions got into foul trouble quickly and only midway through the second quarter, the Lady Greyhounds were already in the bonus. Of the final 15 points in the half, 13 of them were from the line. However, with the help of some solid offense from Macie Pauley who led the Lady Lions in the game with 15 points, the Lady Lions were able to get their offense going and jump out to a 28-19 lead going into the half.
Coming out after the half, the Lady Lions picked up where they left off and dropped 20 points in the eight minute frame on their opponent, but allowed 17. At the end of three it was Fairfield still with the lead at 48-36.
In the fourth and final quarter, the Lady Lions almost let their precious lead slip away.
As this point in the game, the Lady Lions were still in foul trouble and their opponents started the quarter in the bonus. Which meant every foul for the entire eight minutes of play would result in a trip to the foul line for their opponents. The Lady Greyhounds took advantage of this and some timely three point shooting to quickly make up ground and with a minute and a half to go in the game, the lead had been cut to two points at 56-54.
With 48 seconds to go, the Lady Lions sent Manchester to the free throw line again and one of two shots were made trimming the lead to just one. Thankfully, the Lady Lions clamped down on defense without fouling the remainder of the game, forced a couple turnovers while scoring four points of their own, to take home a 60-55 sectional championship victory.
“We knew coming in that it’s hard to beat a team three times,” said Chad Hamilton, head coach of the Lady Lions, after the game. “We also knew that [Manchester’s] Morgan Johnson is one heck of a player. She put on a dominating performance every time she got the ball. We did our best to contain her and in the end we slipped out with a victory and I can’t ask for more than that during tournament time.
Macie Pauley is a very talented player and can get her shot almost anywhere she wants it and sometimes the ones she takes that don’t look good end up going in. She’s definitely a blessing to our team this year. She can create some things and she’s a big big help.
Brianna [Barnes] has a nice touch around the basket. She provides some much needed size for us and she definitely filled the gap we had there for a while.”
FHS – 8 19 20 12 – 60
MHS – 12 7 17 19 – 55
Fairfield: Pauley 3(2) 3/3 – 15; Shope 2 7/12 – 11; Barnes 5 0/2 – 10; C. Arnold (2) 2/2 – 8; Adams 3 – 6; Huff 1(1) – 5; L. Arnold (1) – 3; Newkirk 1 – 2. Totals: 15(6) 12/19 – 60.
Manchester: Johnson 8(1) 14/21 – 33; White 2(1) 2/2 – 9; Smith (2) 1/2 – 7; Hobbs (2) – 6; McFarland 0/2 – 0. Totals: 10(6) 17/27 – 55.
Reach Robert Stegbauer at 937-393-3456 ext. 1679 or on Twitter @RStegbauer.