Trojans’ unforgettable run ends Tuesday
MARENGO — In the last dance before the state tournament Tuesday, the clock finally struck midnight on the Trojan girls’ Cinderella season.
Fairfield, eyeing its first state tournament bid in 23 years, fell one win shy with a 60-33 loss to third-ranked Benton in the regional final round at Iowa Valley High School in Marengo.
The teary farewell was not the fairy-tale ending the Trojans wanted, but it couldn’t undo the run that got them there. The Trojans avenged regular season losses to Mount Pleasant and No. 10 Oskaloosa last week to come within one game of the “Big Dance.”
“What a great run. We’ve reignited the fire — these seniors have for girls’ basketball in Fairfield, in my opinion,” Fairfield head coach Mick Flattery said. “Last year we just wanted to get to eight wins. Then we wanted to get to nine this season, and those girls would not just say, ‘We got to nine and that’s enough.’ We took it to 11 with a chance to go to Wells Fargo.”
Tuesday, the Trojans (11-13) looked like a team that had given all it had in these playoffs. A team that had nothing left to give.
Benton (21-2) relied on huge runs in both the first and third quarters to earn a second straight state tournament berth. The Bobcats, who have drawn Harlan (21-2) in the tournament’s first round, went on a 14-1 run in the first quarter and a 21-2 spurt in the third.
Fairfield’s Hanna Greiner scored one point from the free throw line to cut Benton’s lead to 3-1 early, but the Bobcats answered with 11 straight points to take a commanding 14-1 advantage. With time running out in the quarter, junior McKenna Ledger made Fairfield’s first field goal in the game, but Benton upped its lead to 16-3 with a buzzer-beater at the end of the first.
Benton held the Trojans to 11 total field goals in the game, and its suffocating defense kept Fairfield on its toes throughout.
“They were able to run the box-and-one on Sidney Baumann, which people had not done. [Madison] Weekly really did a good job on her,” said Flattery.
The Trojans found more success in the second quarter, scoring 13 points to Benton’s 15.
Greiner cut into Benton’s lead with back-to-back baskets in the opening minute of the period, and the Trojans later narrowed the deficit to 23-12 on a 3-pointer by junior Sydney Burnett. Benton went on an 8-2 run to take a 31-14 advantage, but Baumann closed the half going 2-for-2 from the foul line.
Senior Miranda Metcalf scored two of the first three shots out of the locker room to cut the deficit to 33-20, but again Benton answered with a 19-3 run to end the third period.
“You’ve got to credit Benton. They’re a very good basketball team,” said Flattery. “They got out to those early runs, and then it was just tough to make those comebacks. We were just running from behind them the rest of the game.”
With the game out of reach over the final eight minutes, the Trojans scored 10 points while holding Benton to six.
Weekly, a Northern Iowa recruit, led Benton on the offensive end with 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the field. Freshman Alyssa Wiebel added 10.
For Fairfield, Burnett had a team-high seven points on 2-for-3 shooting from 3-point land. Metcalf finished with six points, five rebounds and two steals; Greiner had five points with seven boards; and Marisa Repp totaled five points and two assists.
Brittany Kurtz scored four points and dished out three assists, while Baumann scored four points to go with two steals. Ledger tacked on two points.
Fairfield loses three senior starters in Baumann, Kurtz and Metcalf. Flattery said all three will be leaving behind huge shoes to fill.
“Brittany came back from two major issues, and she could have cashed it in right there, but she came back and left us with a great game in Oskaloosa the other night. Miranda was the unsung hero. She’s like that offensive lineman in football that never gets much coverage, but she’s the one opening the holes,” Flattery said. “And then Sidney Baumann, my goodness. She leaves with several records that she broke.”
“Those three will definitely be missed. They taught our younger girls a whole lot,” he added.
Flattery also said the experience his younger players received during the postseason run will be invaluable as the program moves forward.
“I thought it was really important because we got to practice so much more,” the second-year head man said. “Playing in the environments we played in will only help in the years to come.”
Class 4A Region 5 Final
Fairfield vs. Benton (@ Marengo)
FAIRFIELD — 3 13 7 10 — 33
BENTON — 16 15 23 6 — 60
FAIRFIELD — Burnett 2 1-3 7, Metcalf 2 2-2 6, Repp 1 3-3 5, Greiner 2 1-2 5, Baumann 1 2-2 4, Kurtz 2 0-0 4, Ledger 1 0-0 2, Williams 0 0-1 0, Winslow 0 0-0 0, Flattery 0 0-0 0, McClure 0 0-0 0, Totals 11 9-13 33.
3-point goals — Burnett 2. Rebounds — Greiner 7, Metcalf 5, Repp 3. Assists — Kurtz 3, Baumann 2, Repp 2, Metcalf. Steals — Metcalf 2, Baumann 2, Repp, Kurtz, Burnett.