Van Buren girls hold off Fairfield late
Van Buren made just 12 field goals Friday, but it more than made up for that lack of production with 20 trips to the free throw line in a 45-41 road victory over Fairfield.
The visiting Warriors attempted 35 free throws compared to just 19 for Fairfield, which finished 15 of 43 from the field. Van Buren was 18 of 35 from the charity stripe and 12 of 34 from the field.
“Free throws was a difference in the game,” said Fairfield head coach Mick Flattery. “We fouled them way too much. We put them on the line way too much.”
Van Buren senior Hanna Haynes, who carried a free throw percentage of 35 into Friday’s game, had her best game of the season from the line nailing 8 of 15 attempts.
Haynes had extra motivation to hit her shots. The win, she said, was for former teammate Paige Gaston, who graduated last spring.
“We were doing it for Paige [Gaston] because she got hurt during this game last season,” said Haynes, who added the win was a good confidence-booster. “It’s good for our confidence and we always want to beat Fairfield, just because we’re so close and we’re rivals.”
The Warriors opened the game on a 5-1 run following a 3-pointer by sophomore Kaitlyn Johnson and 2 from senior Jordan Billups. Fairfield kept within striking distance, as Fairfield junior Sydney Burnett hit a 3 and senior Brittany Kurtz scored four points in the second half of the opening quarter. The Warriors led 12-8 at the end of the period.
Another 3 by Johnson at the start of the second quarter handed Van Buren its largest lead of the night, at 15-8, but Fairfield again clawed back before the intermission. Trailing 22-12 with two minutes to go, Fairfield junior Marisa Repp scored on a layup, and mere seconds later turned a steal into two more points. A free throw by Burnett and basket by Karley Williams cut Van Buren’s lead to three, but Johnson nailed two free throws in the half’s closing moments to give the Warriors a 24-19 halftime lead.
Repp, who had a game-high 18 points for the Trojans, scored six straight in the third quarter — a span that included another steal by the junior — to cut the deficit to 30-28. The Warriors entered the fourth quarter up just 31-29 after leading by as many as 10 points.
“The defense is where it all starts. If we didn’t have that we wouldn’t be very good,” said Repp. “Since our defense is so good we were able to get our steals, which is what I like to get a lot of my points off of.”
The rally continued in the fourth quarter for Fairfield. Senior Sidney Baumann hit a pair of free throws to tie the game, and a basket by McKenna Ledger gave Fairfield its first lead of the night, at 33-31. The two teams traded buckets until 35-all, but Van Buren took the lead back on a basket by Abbey Rider.
Fairfield wasn’t done yet, however. Baumann scored a basket with 1:10 remaining to narrow the deficit to 40-39. The senior point guard then came through with a clutch steal and subsequent assist to Repp, who scored the go-ahead bucket with 52 seconds to go.
Haynes took the lead right back with a basket of her own on the ensuing possession, and Van Buren’s lead stretched to 44-41 on two free shots from Billups. Fairfield had two chances to score on its next possession but came up empty, and Billups hit one more free throw in the final seconds.
“We just started to work together as a team, which helped out a lot,” Rider said of her team’s effort in the second half.
Van Buren head coach Matt Zeitler was most impressed Friday with the Warriors’ composure.
“I thought they were pretty resilient playing in front of a good-sized crowd, having a lot of pressure and a lot of hand checking,” the third-year coach said.
Van Buren only received scoring contributions from its five starters Friday, though all five girls shared in the wealth. While Van Buren’s senior leaders did what was expected of them, Rider was the big surprise of the night. The guard, who averages 1.6 points per game in her career, totaled eight points and hit 50 percent of her shots from the field.
“She played under control, helped get the ball up the court and all that kind of stuff,” said Zeitler.
Also for Van Buren, Haynes scored 14 points and Billups tallied 11. Johnson hit 2 of 4 shots from 3-point land and scored eight. Senior Payten Hughes added four points.
In addition to Repp’s production, Fairfield had seven points from Baumann and six points from Burnett. Baumann also led the team with three steals and four assists. Hanna Greiner totaled four points and a team-high six rebounds, and Kurtz netted four.
The win was part of a four-victory week for Van Buren, which sits at 8-1 on the season.
“We had a rough start just because we have a new point guard, and she’s learning her new spot because she’s technically a wing,” Haynes said. “So we’re just now putting the pieces together and gradually getting better.”
The Warriors will be looking for their fifth straight win Tuesday when they travel to another rival, Central Lee.
Fairfield (3-4), meanwhile, has nearly a week off before hosting Keokuk on Thursday.
Repp predicts her teammates will learn from the loss and keep their chins up going forward.
“With every loss you can learn from it, so the next practice you just go in and work on it. There’s nothing much more you can do,” she said. “Everybody is sad after it, but they try to work around it to get better.”
Fairfield vs. Van Buren
VAN BUREN — 10 14 7 14 — 45
FAIRFIELD — 6 13 10 12 — 41
FAIRFIELD — Repp 7 4-4 18, Baumann 1 5-6 7, Burnett 2 1-2 6, Greiner 1 2-4 4, Kurtz 2 0-0 4, Ledger 1 0-2 2, Williams 1 0-0 2, Metcalf 0 0-0 0, Winslow 0 0-0 0, Flattery 0 0-1 0, Totals 15 12-19 41
3-point goals — Burnett 1. Rebounds — Greiner 6, Repp 5, Kurtz 5, Ledger 4, Williams 2, Baumann 2, Metcalf 2. Assists — Baumann 4, Burnett 2. Steals — Baumann 3, Repp 2, Greiner 1
VAN BUREN — Haynes 3 8-15 14, Billups 3 5-7 11, Rider 3 1-5 8, Johnson 2 2-2 8, Hughes 1 2-4 4, Wells 0 0-0 0, Murgia 0 0-0 0, Filson 0 0-2 0, Totals 12 18-35 45
3-point goals — Johnson 2. Rebounds — Haynes 17, Hughes 6, Billups 5, Filson 2, Rider 2, Johnson 1. Assists — Hughes 4, Billups 3, Haynes 1. Steals — Haynes 3, Johnson 2, Billups 2. Blocks — Haynes 6, Johnson 1, Rider 1, Billups 1