Trojans fall to Demons in playoffsFairfield girls finish season 11-11
An old sports axiom says it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season. The Washington varsity girls’ basketball team was faced with this task in its Class 4A opening regional playoff game Wednesday when it hosted Southeast Conference opponent Fairfield.
Back on Dec. 13, Washington defeated the Trojans 54-43. More than a month later on Jan. 24, Fairfield hosted the Demons and Washington prevailed 58-51. Those two games set the stage for the first round regional between the Demons and Trojans, and whether or not Washington would be able to pull off another win. The Demons did, by the score of 49-44.
The first quarter ended in a 10-10 tie and the score was indicative of how the game had gone to that point. Neither team was getting second-chance opportunities and both teams were committing turnovers. The lead had changed hands four times during the frame.
In the second quarter, Fairfield sophomore Mackenzie Flattery, freshman Sami Fritz and junior Mackenzie McClure got hot from behind the arc and used it to build their lead to four points early in the second quarter.
“In the first two times we faced Fairfield, I either triangle-two’d them or box-and-one’d them so they wouldn’t get those looks,” Washington head coach Phil Long said. “Once they started hitting, I didn’t want their confidence to grow so we went back to [the triangle-two] defense.”
The Demons then tightened up their defense, forcing Fairfield to turn the ball over on three consecutive possessions while Washington senior Addisen Shive went to work on the offensive end.
“Our girls did a great job of getting great looks but we got into too much of a hurry and committed too many turnovers,” Fairfield coach Mick Flattery said. “We were effective at getting the looks that we wanted. We had two-on-ones [and]three-on-ones, but instead of attacking, we wanted to throw the ball way too early.”
When Demon junior Dylann Schluetter hit her free throw to end the first half, Washington held a 29-22 lead.
Fairfield was able to eat into the Demon lead at times in the third quarter, but Washington had a run of its own to answer with and the Demons held a 38-33 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Trojans went on a 5-0 run to start the fourth quarter and tied the game at 38 with just over five minutes left to play. On the following Trojan possession, Washington senior Grace Redlinger got a hold of a loose ball and passed it down the court to Dema Giardino, who laid it in and took the momentum back for Washington.
McClure tied the game again at 40 on a jump shot with just over three minutes left to play. She finished with 14 points and two assists.
“What a game by Mackenzie McClure,” Flattery said. “In tournament games you always have to have an x-factor. Tournament games aren’t always going to go as you draw them up. You try to survive and advance. Tonight she was really confident, dribble-drove and got to the foul line really well.”
Stephanie Fishback got an open look for three points to give Washington a 43-40 lead with 2:12 showing on the clock.
“The scouting report said that Fairfield would sag off [Fishback and Schluetter] at the three-point line and not guard them closely,” Long said. “I told them that should be an insult to them. [Fishback] never even thought about it, just caught it and let it go.”
The last two minutes of the game were characterized by missed shot attempts by the Trojans, while the Demons hit their free throws to put the game on ice.
Washington moves on to play at Grinnell on Saturday for a spot in the regional final against the winner of Ballard and Pella. Fairfield finishes the season at 11-11.
Mackenzie Flattery finished with nine points and three steals. Marisa Repp finishes her basketball career at Fairfield with eight points and eight rebounds. Hanna Greiner grabbed four rebounds in her Trojan finale. Fritz, who still has plenty of years playing point guard for Fairfield ahead of her, scored seven points.
“We lose four great seniors but we have a lot of kids that got a lot of playing time this year,” Flattery said. “We’ve played girls from all four classes on our varsity team this season. The cupboard obviously isn’t bare, but we have a lot of work to do to get to the next level.”