Trojan girls eye state tournament bid today
Outside of Fairfield, nobody probably saw this coming.
The Trojan girls’ basketball team advanced to the Class 4A Region 5 final with a win over Oskaloosa on Saturday. The only team standing between them and the program’s first trip to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines since 1990 is third-ranked Benton (20-2) today.
The Trojans, who had a 9-12 regular season record, have upset two straight teams in the postseason and seem to be getting better with every win, the stakes raised higher and higher.
“They believe. It’s not like we’re 11-12 anymore. We’re 2-0 [in the postseason], and that’s how we’re playing,” Fairfield head coach Mick Flattery said.
In a quest for her team’s second straight state tournament appearance, Madison Weekly leads the charge for Benton. The senior guard has averaged 18.8 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field, and she ranks first in Class 4A in 3-point shooting — just ahead of Fairfield’s Sidney Baumann.
“She has really deep 3-point range, but we’ve already played a few point guards who bring the same capabilities this postseason,” Flattery said in reference to Oskaloosa’s Kena Veldhuizen and Mount Pleasant’s Taryne Shull.
Benton also features a pair of post players with comparable size to Fairfield’s Hanna Greiner, who is the second leading Trojan scorer with nine points per game. At 6 feet tall, Benton senior Beth Thompson averages seven points per game on 62 percent shooting, while 5-foot-11 senior Sara Petrzelka averages 8.8 per game.
Benton’s off-guard freshman Alyssa Wiebel also is dangerous from long-range, demonstrated by her 33 makes on the season and 12 point-per-game average.
To beat a team like Benton, Flattery said the key to victory simply lies in doing the same things that got his Trojans this far.
“You don’t have to do extraordinary things. You just need to do the little things,” he said. “Get loose balls, knock down free throws, give up as few easy baskets as you can and just have fun.”
The Trojans have also relied on clutch play throughout the lineup and the sharp-shooting ways of Baumann, who has scored 51 points in her two postseason games. Fairfield received a big boost from several players in its last win, with Brittany Kurtz chipping in seven points and Miranda Metcalf hitting a clutch free throw in the final seconds of regulation.
“Hopefully our play will carry over into the third game,” Baumann said following Saturday’s win. “I have a good feeling that it will.”
At this point, that’s something everyone should see coming.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. today at Iowa Valley High School in Marengo.