Carly Arnold is pictured Monday night in a game against North Adams. Arnold led the Lady Lions with 13 points. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Carly Arnold is pictured Monday night in a game against North Adams. Arnold led the Lady Lions with 13 points. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
LEESBURG — The difference between the first and second halves for the Fairfield Lady Lions and the visiting North Adams Lady Green Devils are best described as polar opposites.

The Lady Lions played strong basketball for the first half at Grandle Gymnasium on Monday night, their first game since Dec. 21, but in the second half they were held to 10 points. North Adams, trailing at halftime, came out with not just strong offense, but their defense switched up and became the difference makers, leaving the Lady Lions falling by a 52-37 score.

Fairfield led the Southern Hills Athletic Conference by 10 points in the third frame on two different occasions, and before that at the half led 27-22. The second half was a different story, with the Green Devils scoring 14 points in the third and 19 more in the fourth. Fairfield’s third frame consisted of four points in the third and six more in the fourth.

“We put two good quarters, one mediocre quarter and one terrible quarter together, and against a good team like that, if you don’t put four good quarters together, it is going to be a long night,” FHS head coach Chad Hamilton said. “They had a size advantage, and once they started moving the ball really well, getting the ball out of position and getting the ball inside, we had a tough time stopping them in the post. That’s what they went to every time in the second half, and we had a hard time answering that.”

In the opening quarter for the Lady Lions, the score was tied early on at 2-2, but the Lady Lions broke the tie with a layup from Brianna Barnes, followed by a layup from Blake Adams, a 3-pointer by Carly Arnold and a layup by Grace Shope for a 9-2 lead with 2:53 left in the opening frame.

The 7-0 scoring run was snapped with a 3-pointer by North Adams’ Brooklyn Stout at the 2:21 mark of the first, but Arnold answered with a jumper as she led the Lady Lions with 13 points on the night.

Shope, who totaled 10 points in the game, all in the first half, followed wth a steal and layup, and Arnold was clutch again with a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left in the first frame, extending the FHS lead to 16-5. NA answered with a layup, but Arnold scored the final points of the first with a free throw for the 17-7 lead.

The Lady Green Devils opened the second with four straight points, but a put-back by Barnes pushed the Lady Lions ahead by a 19-11 score. NA scored four consecutive points again, but this time Shope answered with a steal at half court and fast break for two points, followed by a jumper at the 3:23 mark for a 23-15 Lady Lions advantage.

NA, for the third time in the frame, added four consecutive points, but like earlier, the Lady Lions answered with layups from Shope and Chloe Barber to end the first half with a 27-19 lead.

“It seems like we came out with more energy in the first half,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know if that was because they were pressing us and we got to play a little more uptempo, but they settled more into the zone in the second half and we really struggled shooting the ball and in our half-court offense. We had a hard time scoring.”

Coming out of the locker room in the second half, the Lady Green Devils switched defenses, allowing them to scorch the host Lady Lions, though as late as the 5:03 mark of the third, FHS held a 10-point lead over the visitors.

FHS scored a 3-pointer from Arnold to start the third, which was answered by a two-point basket by Grace McDowell of the Lady Green Devils, who finished with eight points for the game. Adams scored two points for FHS on a layup off a bounce pass in the paint from Arnold for the aforementioned 10-point lead at 31-21.

From there, North Adams chipped away at the FHS lead with a 3-pointer by Lakyn Hupp, a free throw from Avery Harper, a 3-pointer by Taylor Hesler and four more points in the quarter, which led to them leading 33-31 after three frames. Harper led all scorers with 16 points, including seven points in the fourth quarter. Hupp finished with 11 points.

In the fourth, North Adams broke away with a 19-6 quarter, leading to the loss for the Lady Lions.

FHS ended the game 3-of-8 from the free-throw line, and NA was 10-of-14, including 9-of-12 in the fourth quarter.

In JV play, the Lady Green Devils defeated the Lady Lions, 24-19. Leading NA was Carolyn Shupert with 12 points, and for FHS, Lauren Arnold finished with five points.

The Lady Lions play again on Thursday, Jan. 12 against Fayetteville in SHAC action.