LIBERTY TWP. — Fairfield High School senior Zahrya Bailey refused to hang her head Wednesday night after the Indians lost 61-56 in overtime to West Clermont in Division I sectional girls basketball action at Lakota East.
Bailey did all she could, pouring in 19 points after halftime as ninth-seeded Fairfield overcame a 12-point second-half deficit, only to fall short.
“We played our hearts out, you know, that is all that matters,” Bailey said.
WEDNESDAY GIRLS BASKETBALL COVERAGE
She finished with 22 points and Kelis Jones added 14, but the Indians (16-7) couldn’t overcome red-hot 3-point shooting by the Wolves.
Kendall Hale hit five 3s and tossed in a game-high 25 points as No. 7 seed West Clermont (16-7) advanced to a 6 p.m. district semifinal against fourth-seeded Mason next Wednesday at East.
Overall, the Wolves shot 10-of-18 from beyond the arc, including a dagger 3 by Dakota Reeves with 20 seconds left in regulation that tied the game at 51.
The late heroics by Reeves (10 points, eight boards, four assists) offset a brilliant comeback from Fairfield, which grabbed its first lead (49-48) since the second quarter when Bailey converted a three-point play with 47 seconds left.
After a WC miss, Zaria Black was fouled and her two foul shots put the Indians up 51-48. But Reeves grabbed an offensive rebound, calmly dribbled back beyond the arc and nailed an uncontested triple to send the game to OT.
In overtime, Hale had a big-time drive to put the Wolves up 55-51 before a sequence that all but ended Fairfield’s chances.
First Hale nailed a long three to give WC a 58-51 lead, then she blocked a Bailey shot, grabbed the rebound and found a teammate who was fouled.
Fairfield would only get as close as 58-54 the rest of the way after a Bailey 3-pointer.
WC coach Jeff Click couldn’t believe the game went to OT, watching in dismay as his squad committed 11 fourth-quarter turnovers.
“We were playing pretty comfortably, and they started pressing and then we didn’t handle it very well,” Click said. “I told them it is like sharks seeing blood in the water. (Fairfield) got more aggressive, and we got on our heels. Even when we got stops, we turned it over. I am proud of them, though. We made the plays down the stretch and gutted it out.”
Click said he was overjoyed to see Hale, who also had 13 boards, go off after the 5-foot-11 sophomore was held scoreless in their tournament opener.
“She is a good player, but to be quite honest, she was bad last week,” Click said. “She is obviously very talented and has fought injuries. We are not surprised she can do that and hopefully it is coming on at the right time.”
West Clermont trailed 12-8 after the first quarter, but blitzed the Tribe in the second quarter, nailing four 3-pointers while outscoring the Indians 26-13 to grab a 34-25 halftime edge.
“We started fast and executed our game plan,” FHS coach David Loper said. “The second quarter we stopped executing our game plan. We started getting away from it, and they started knocking down shots. Give them credit, they are a good basketball team.”
Loper said he was proud of his team’s comeback and wished the Indians had won it in regulation.
“You have to give the kids credit for battling back like that,” Loper said. “It is unfortunate we didn’t finish it in regulation.”
Fairfield trailed 37-25 with five minutes left in the third quarter, but Bailey had five straight points and Jones nailed a 3 to make it 40-33 after three quarters.
While West Clermont kept turning it over in the final quarter, the Indians kept chipping away at the lead behind Bailey, who totaled nine final-stanza points.
“Z is such a gamer,” Loper said. “She is an all-star. She is first-team all-district and she should get accolades for all-state. For her size, she is just a fabulous basketball player.”
West Clermont 8-26-6-11-10—61
FAIRFIELD (16-7): Shaniyah Reese 2 1 6; Zaria Black 1 2 4; Zahrya Bailey 7 6 22; Addie Kidd 1 0 2; DeAngele Peterson 1 0 2; Tori Williams 3 0 6; Kelis Jones 5 0 14. Totals: 20-9-56
WEST CLERMONT (16-7): Jenna Simon 0 5 5; Kaila Nutter 1 0 3; Gracie Haywood 1 4 6; Kirsten Click 0 1 1; Dakota Reeves 3 2 10; Amanda Lovejoy 2 0 5; Marissa Jenike 1 3 6; Kendall Hale 8 4 25. Totals: 16-19-61
3-pointers: F 7 (Jones 4, Bailey 2, Reese), W 10 (Hale 5, Reeves 2, Nutter, Lovejoy, Jenike)