Fairfield girls drop conference opener
A seven-minute scoreless drought spanning the first two quarters buried the Fairfield girls’ basketball team in a big, early deficit, and Mount Pleasant capitalized Friday in the Southeast Conference opener in Fairfield.
The Trojans, who initially led 5-4 with four minutes remaining in the first period, went cold the remainder of the quarter and for three minutes in the second, and the visiting Panthers reeled off 16 straight points to take a 20-5 lead. Mount Pleasant continued its hot shooting from there to run away with a decisive 68-38 victory.
Mount Pleasant’s Kelsi Phipps, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, finished with 20 points on 8 of 10 shooting — most of her shots coming right beneath the basket — and junior teammate Taryne Shull scored 17, leading the Panthers to their first win of the season.
Fairfield, which lost its second game in a row after winning the opener, never found its collective touch in the contest. The Trojans hit 25 percent of their shots and were an uncharacteristically poor 9 of 18 from the free throw line.
Mount Pleasant hit 52 percent of its shots from the field, including 4 of 9 from long range, as it took a 31-20 lead into halftime. The Panthers then out-scored Fairfield the rest of the way, building a 45-26 lead after three quarters and scoring another 23 points while holding Fairfield to 12 in the final period.
“Credit goes to Mount Pleasant for shooting the ball so well from the field and free throw line,” said Fairfield head coach Mick Flattery. “We had good looks at the basket, but we just could not knock them down.”
The final score was a surprise to Shull, who expected a much closer game from the Highway 34 rivals.
“I thought it was going to be a close game, and we came out fighting,” said Shull, who buried 3 of 4 shots from beyond the arc. “We just wanted to come out and get our first conference win, and we just have to carry this on.”
The Panthers were also an impressive 18 of 23 from the charity stripe, and Shull and Phipps combined to go 8 of 9 from the line. Jena Stukerjergen and Natalie Myers both went 3 of 4, while Shelby Allender and Leslie Taylor each went 2 of 2 from the charity stripe.
Also for Mount Pleasant, Ita scored nine points with three steals and Myers finished with seven points, three assists and three steals. Taylor and Mary Wester scored four points each.
“We really rotated our players and wanted to keep them fresh,” said Mount Pleasant head coach Joanna Settles. “Natalie Ita at the point just did a great job running the team tonight. I thought Leslie Taylor did a really good job on defense. Fairfield’s [Marisa] Repp and [Sidney] Baumann are really good players, and it was fun to kind of slow them down a little bit.”
While Fairfield’s tight full-court press did force 17 turnovers, Mount Pleasant’s speedy players had little trouble moving the ball up and down the court in the second half and turned several opportunities into uncontested scores.
“We have a lot of state champions in track on this team, so we like to run,” Settles said. “We’ve just been working on making stronger passes and handling the pressure. Coach Flattery always has his team play hard, so we knew we had to be ready to handle that pressure.”
In the first quarter, Repp scored the first five points for Fairfield, and the Trojans took a 5-4 lead. Myers put the Panthers in the lead with a mid-range jumper, and they would hold it the rest of the way. Shull converted two free throws and scored another bucket in the paint as Mount Pleasant went up 10-5.
The Panthers scored the next 10 points in the second quarter, with Phipps hitting four straight free throws and scoring on a layup. Baumann nailed a 3 with 4:55 remaining to put an end to Fairfield’s scoreless drought. Hanna Greiner made a layup off a steal, Erica Winslow hit another 3-pointer and Burnett drilled two free throws to pull Fairfield within 22-15.
The Trojans never got closer than seven points again, though, as Mount Pleasant scored nine of the final 14 points in the half.
Phipps continued to score easy buckets in the paint in the third quarter, and the Trojans’ struggles from the offensive end continued as they scored six points in the period. Shull hit two 3s and a pair of free throws at the start of the fourth to put the game out of reach.
Greiner and Repp were the two most efficient scorers for Fairfield, leading the host team with 10 points apiece. Greiner made 44 percent of her shots, while Repp was 4 of 10 from the field.
Both were also the leaders on defense. Greiner pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds, including four on the offensive glass, and Repp led the Trojans with three steals.
“Individually, Marisa’s hustle was very good, and Hanna rebounded very well,” Flattery added.
Also for Fairfield, senior Sidney Baumann scored six points to go with five boards. Winslow and sophomore Madison Roberts tacked on three points each, and senior starter Miranda Metcalf finished with five rebounds.
The Panthers (2-2, 1-0 SEC), who also topped Pella on Saturday, return home to host Keokuk on Friday. Fairfield (1-3, 0-1 SEC), meanwhile, will look to get back on track Tuesday with a road trip to Albia.
Fairfield vs. Mount Pleasant
MT. PLEASANT — 10 21 14 23 — 68
FAIRFIELD — 5 15 6 12 — 38
FAIRFIELD — Repp 10, Greiner 10, Baumann 6, Winslow 3, Roberts 3, Metcalf 2, Burnett 2, Flattery 2
3-point goals — Baumann 2, Winslow 1. Rebounds — Greiner 10, Baumann 5, Metcalf 5, Repp 3, Ledger 3, Kurtz 2, Burnett 2, Winslow 2, Flattery 2. Assists — Greiner 2, Burnett 2. Steals — Repp 3, Greiner 2
MT. PLEASANT — Phipps 20, Shull 17, Ita 9, Myers 7, Taylor 4, Wester 4, Stukerjergen 3, Allender 2, Becker 2
3-point goals — Shull 3, Ita 1. Rebounds — Phipps 8, Shull 5, Wester 3, Stukerjergen 2. Assists — Myers 3, Shull 2, Ita 2. Steals — Shull 3, Myers 3, Ita 3, Phipps 2