Trojan girls shock Mount Pleasant to advance
■ The Trojans stormed back from a 24-11 deficit to win their first postseason game since 2007.
MOUNT PLEASANT — In a game where the opponents are familiar foes, it all comes down to execution.
Fairfield did exactly what it needed to do to claim victory over Mount Pleasant, 52-47, in the regional quarterfinal game on Wednesday night.
After two losses to the Panthers in the regular season — 68-38 and 54-33 — Fairfield came out fighting.
“We came ready to (win),” Fairfield’s Sidney Baumann said. “We knew what they would do, and we just worked our defense against their offenses.”
“It feels great; I’m so happy to have done it,” Hanna Greiner added.
Since the teams had already seen each other twice, there were no surprises on either side.
“When you play a team three times, there’s not going to be a whole lot of secrets,” Fairfield coach Mick Flattery said. “You’ve just got to out-execute each other.”
And when it counted, Fairfield’s execution was nearly flawless.
The Trojans tied the game at 43 on Baumann’s steal and jumper with 4:16 left in the final quarter.
Natalie Myers regained the advantage for Mount Pleasant on a layup, but Fairfield narrowed that lead when Greiner made a free throw.
Hannah Becker stretched it back to three points on a layup of her own with 2:28 left to play, but that would be the last time the Panthers would score.
After going 1-for-4 already in the quarter, the Panthers continued to falter at the free throw line, missing the front end of a 1-and-1.
Fairfield didn’t have the same trouble, however, as Baumann hit two from the stripe with 1:21 left on the clock to cut Mount Pleasant’s lead back to one, 47-46.
“I just thought, ‘These are going in — they have to,’” Baumann said.
Mount Pleasant missed another free throw. Then — after Fairfield missed a shot and a putback attempt — Marissa Repp grabbed another offensive rebound and, with 24 seconds remaining, put it in for the lead.
Mount Pleasant had possession three more times, but they never even got off a shot. Sydney Burnett, Baumann and Miranda Metcalf each got a steal for the Trojans as the Panthers slipped into a panic.
“We had some big plays there at the end,” Flattery said.
In the last 13 seconds, the Trojans tacked on four more points as Baumann and Burnett each made a pair of free throws, putting the game out of reach.
Earlier in the night, it looked like victory was out of reach for the Trojans.
The teams traded shots all the way through the first quarter, and Mount Pleasant held a narrow lead after Natalie Myers hit a long 2-pointer to make it 11-9.
“Natalie Myers had the best game of her career,” Mount Pleasant coach Joanna Settles said. “She did a great job stepping up when they tried to stop Phipps and slow Taryne (Shull) down.”
Myers finished with a team-high 14 points, and Shull added 11. Ita and Becker each scored seven. Shull and Phipps each had six rebounds.
In the second quarter, the Panthers went on a 15-2 run as their pressure stopped Fairfield in its tracks and gave the Panthers a couple easy layups.
“It was like we had never seen pressure in our lives,” Flattery said. “They had us down and out at 24-11, and I’ve got to credit Mount Pleasant for that.”
The run carried the Panthers to a 27-19 halftime lead.
“At halftime, I told my team, ‘We have 17 turnovers. (Mount Pleasant) has a hard time scoring when we don’t turn it over, so let’s stop doing that,’” Flattery said. “We just wanted to be there in the fourth quarter, hanging around.”
The third quarter was a big one for the Trojans, who climbed from a eight-point halftime deficit to their first lead since going up 3-2 in the first quarter. They went up 36-34 on a floater by Repp with 1:34 left in the third.
“We played as a team and just kept pushing through, even when we were down,” Greiner said.
Greiner played much of the fourth quarter with four fouls, and teamwork became especially important to her as she fought to stay in the game.
“I just tried to stay hands straight up,” Greiner said. “Everyone helped me out — they covered me when I had to stay back.”
Greiner finished the game with a double-double, scoring 14 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Baumann led the team with 24 points.
Baumann, too, credited the Trojan’s teamwork with the win.
“The key was working together, and driving (to the basket) — it worked for us this time around,” she said.
The fouls that got the Panthers into trouble during the Southeast Conference championship against Washington haunted them again in the regional game.
“We struggled on defense — we had too many fouls. That was our weakest point,” Shull said.
When the Panthers had an opportunity at the free throw line, they didn’t deliver, going only 1-for-6 in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t make our free throws,” Settles said. “We were in a position to win, and we didn’t make free throws. That’s what it comes down to.”
On the night, Mount Pleasant was 7-for-16 from the line, while Fairfield was 22-for-31.
But Settles also had to give credit to the Trojans for their efforts.
“I thought they crashed the boards hard,” Settles said. “They had a great third quarter — they played a great game. I wish them the best in the tournament.”
Next up for Fairfield is a trip to Oskaloosa on Saturday, where they will face the Class 4A 10th-ranked Indians at 7 p.m.
Class 4A Region 5 First Round
Fairfield @ Mount Pleasant
FAIRFIELD — 9 10 18 15 — 52
Mount Pleasant — 11 16 7 13 — 47
FAIRFIELD — Baumann 4 15-21 24, Greiner 6 2-4 14, Repp 3 1-2 8, Burnett 0 4-4 4, Metcalf 1 0-0 2, Kurtz 0 0-0 0, Totals 14 22-31 52.
3-point goals — Baumann, Repp. Rebounds — Greiner 11, Baumann 4, Burnett 4. Assists — Baumann, Williams. Steals — Baumann 6, Burnett 3, Repp 2, Greiner, Metcalf.