The Fairfield High School girls basketball team made noticeable strides this season, but the Indians just went flat Monday night.
McAuley rolled to a 54-35 win in a Division I sectional final at Lakota East and ended Fairfield’s best season in more than a decade at 17-8.
Starters Anaiah Williams and Ashley Ricks were sent to the bench after picking up two fouls in the first quarter, and the Indians never seemed in sync after that. Fairfield struggled with turnovers and was left playing chase on defense much of the game.
“We stopped taking care of the ball, and the team that handles the ball the best will win the game,” Fairfield coach David Loper said. “We just threw some passes away, and I had two starters have to sit the whole (second) quarter almost. Those are two critical players for us, so that really hurt.”
Fairfield was up 6-2 when Williams was charged with her second foul at the midway point in the opening period. The Mohawks (21-3) then went on a 12-0 run, while the Indians went scoreless for more than four minutes.
Ricks collected her second foul as Girls Greater Catholic League Player of the Year Emily Vogelpohl drove in for a layup, then converted the free throw to make it 11-6 with 55 seconds left in the first quarter.
Brooke Spaulding ended the scoring drought on a free throw with four seconds left, then intercepted the in-bounds pass and nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Fairfield some life. However, it didn’t last.
The Indians struggled to find the seam on their passes and turned the ball over 11 times in the first half, while McAuley took advantage for 15 of its points en route to building a 29-16 halftime lead.
“When this team plays with energy, we are one of the better teams, and this team brought a lot of energy today,” Mohawks coach Dan Wallace said. “They are a little different with their rotations because they are so big, so it took us a little while to adjust to that, but once we got our speed going and started attacking the basket and playing aggressive like we had talked about all week, I was happy.”
Fairfield, which was outscored 15-5 in the second quarter, cut its deficit to nine points in the third quarter but returned to its earlier struggles, and the game quickly got out of reach again.
Voegelpohl finished with a game-high 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Daria Bentley and Williams led Fairfield with eight points each.
“Good things will happen and bad things will happen, but when bad things happen, you have to learn to bounce back,” Loper said. “We will. We’re a work in progress. It was a great group of seniors we will miss, and I’m proud of them – they did a lot of great things and brought the program where it is today. It’s the best record we’ve had in probably 30 years.”
McAuley, which beat Fairfield by three points in the sectional finals last year, advances to play Centerville in a district final Saturday at Harrison. It marks the third straight sectional championship for the Mohawks.
FAIRFIELD (17-8): Risa Watkins 1 1 3; Brandalyn Williams 1 0 3; Brooke Spaulding 2 2 7; Kennedy Roberts-Rosser 2 0 4; Daria Bentley 3 1 8; Anaiah Williams 4 0 8; Ashley Ricks 1 0 2. Totals: 14-4-35.
MCAULEY (21-3): Hallie Heidemann 2 0 5; Lauren Roll 1 0 3; Sydney Lambert 3 2 8; Claire Lynch 1 1 4; Ariel Johnson 2 1 5; Alexah Chrisman 3 3 9; Emily Vogelpohl 8 1 20. Totals: 20-8-54.
3-pters: F 3 (B. Williams, Spaulding, Bentley), M 6 (Vogelpohl 3, Heidemann, Roll, Lynch)
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