A strong first half wasn’t enough to satisfy Fairfield High School girls basketball coach David Loper.
His Indians weren’t seriously challenged after jumping to a 36-18 halftime lead Wednesday night at Hamilton, but Loper wanted to see more consistency in the 65-49 victory.
“That’s not where we need to be,” he said after watching Big Blue outscore his troops by two in the last two quarters. “It was good to come back and get a W after last Saturday. There’s a lot of young kids out there, and it’s a work in progress. But they’ve got to understand they can’t relax on any play.”
Fairfield took a 68-28 beating from Lakota West last Saturday, so handling Hamilton was still a good thing for the Indians, who improved to 8-4 overall and 6-2 in the Greater Miami Conference.
Zahrya Bailey scored 17 points and Brooke Spaulding added 16 as Fairfield forced Big Blue (3-10, 1-7) into 25 turnovers, 16 in the first half.
“After experiencing what happened last Saturday, we tried to come out better tonight with more intensity,” said Spaulding, a senior guard. “We played together more as a team with a little more focus. We wanted to whip up on them like West did to us.
“We got complacent in the second half. It was up and down. But we still managed to keep our composure and do what we had to do to keep a solid win.”
Bailey collected five steals and six rebounds for FHS. Spaulding had four assists and three boards, and Madison Schaeffer added eight points and 10 boards.
Journee Hicks opened the scoring in the first 11 seconds for the Indians, and they never trailed.
Four players on their roster are out with injuries. Loper is hopeful that Kennedy Roberts-Rosser (foot), Aaniyah Hatcher (foot) and Zaria Black (concussion) will return to action at some point, while Karli Farrar will miss the entire season because of a torn ACL.
“We’re fighting through it. The kids are resilient,” Loper said. “Honestly, when we’re on our game, we’re not too bad. The kids are working hard. They’re starting to believe they can play.”
“We just try to say next man up and keep a positive vibe,” Spaulding said. “As long as we play the game that we know we can play, we’ll be good.”
Fairfield’s four losses have come at the hands of West, Mason, Mount Notre Dame and Walnut Hills. Those teams have a combined record of 45-5.
Hamilton had won three of four games after an 0-8 start under first-year coach Harry Phillips.
Big Blue got most of their offensive production from Cici Riggins (22 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks) and DeSuela Rodriguez (10 points, six assists, four boards), and Phillips said that’s been a pattern.
“A lot of our team is centered around DeSuela and Cici, and they play hard,” the HHS coach said. “But they can’t play 32 minutes every night, so somebody’s got to step up, and we haven’t found that person or two people yet. So we’ve just got to keep working.”
Phillips started two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior, and Big Blue responded poorly to the Indians’ pressure. The score was 21-8 at the first stop.
“We watched a lot of film and studied their tendencies and what we could do to turn them over,” Spaulding said. “We executed that very well.”
“Twenty-five turnovers can’t get us where we need to go,” Phillips said. “Their guards played extremely well, and our youth was exposed. That’s what we’re talking about now, either making a change or just going in a different direction as far as how we want to handle our youth.”
Makayla Rogers had five points and 13 rebounds for Hamilton, which shot 35.2 percent from the floor. Fairfield shot 36.1 percent.
The Indians made it to the foul line 30 times and sank 17 free throws. HHS was 9 of 16 at the stripe.
“I’m not questioning what the calls were, but if we’re shooting mid-range jump shots and not getting to the glass, then we’re not getting to the line like we should,” Phillips said. “That is a big thing to me.”
He said it was difficult for his young squad to bounce back after losing its first three games against Edgewood (47-43), Lebanon (65-61) and Turpin (57-46). He felt they were all very winnable.
“That kind of took our wind a little bit,” Phillips said. “I’m not what you would call disappointed or frantic because we’ve won some games, but we can do better. We need to take care of business handling the basketball and be a little bit more secure.”
Both teams resume GMC play Saturday afternoon. Hamilton will travel to Middletown, while Fairfield hosts Lakota East.
FAIRFIELD (8-4, 6-2 GMC): Zahrya Bailey 5 4 17, Adriannah Williams 1 2 4, Addison Kidd 0 4 4, Journee Hicks 2 1 5, Brooke Spaulding 7 1 16, Alexis Yarbrough 1 1 3, Kelis Jones 3 0 6, Denaja Haygood 1 0 2, Madison Schaeffer 2 4 8. Totals: 22-17-65
HAMILTON (3-10, 1-7 GMC): Anna Cardwell 1 0 2, Kira Ash 0 3 3, DeSuela Rodriguez 4 0 10, Cici Riggins 9 4 22, Makayla Rogers 2 1 5, Justice Arce 1 0 2, Jayda Brown 2 1 5. Totals: 19-9-49
3-pointers: F 4 (Bailey 3, Spaulding), H 2 (Rodriguez 2)
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