Fairfield senior Peyton Magee prepares to make a shot in the Lady Lions' SHAC win over Eastern Monday. Magee led all scorers with 25 points. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Fairfield senior Peyton Magee prepares to make a shot in the Lady Lions' SHAC win over Eastern Monday. Magee led all scorers with 25 points. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
LEESBURG — The Fairfield Lady Lions have battled major adversity this season. Three of their players have suffered ACL injuries, while another player recently suffered a shoulder injury. With four players out, and trailing after the first frame and halftime on Monday night, the Lady Lions may have had their backs against the wall. 

That’s the thing for Fairfield for the 2022-23 season … when they have faced said adversity — including coming off a tough last-second loss the game before, and dropping three of their previous four games — they have been able to battle back and regain success, and that was the case in their 17th game of the season. 

Fairfield trailed by six points at the end of the first quarter, then battled back to make it a one-point deficit at halftime. By the time the third quarter ended, the Lady Lions took over the lead, and in the fourth quarter they never lost that lead, with Fairfield winning by a 46-38 score and sweeping the Lady Warriors for the regular season, all while gaining a Southern Hills Athletic Conference victory. 

“The girls dug in and played well. There was no ‘I’ or ‘me.’ There were times where the girls got pressed or had a turnover and could have easily hung their heads, and they didn’t,” Fairfield head coach Josh Stackhouse said. “In the first half, Kassi Miller passed up on some threes, and at halftime we told her ‘you have to start shooting threes.’

“A lot of people look at our team and say it rides on Peyton Magee, and I would love for people to think that, because there isn’t any night that any of the girls can’t step up, while it is Tolle, Miller, Hannah Hamilton, Faith Donley and Ginny Trent who have improved down the stretch. 

“We are pretty thin now, as we lost another in Jobey Hattan, so now we have the three ACL injuries and Jobey with a shoulder injury. The girls dug in, had great communication on the defensive end, and I can’t say enough about Peyton. When you have a kid who guards one of the best scorers in the state like Rylee Leonard, you might think they might not have enough leg strength or endurance left to shoot shots or free throws, and Peyton made every one of her free throws down the stretch. Overall, I can’t say enough about the girls, they did everything for each other.”

Earlier this season, Fairfield — in their second game of the season — defeated Eastern 52-48 at EHS. 

The first quarter saw Eastern lead 12-8 at the end of the frame, a quarter which included a career milestone for Eastern’s Rylee Leonard as she not only had five points in the quarter, but those points led to her earning her 2,000th career point.

Fairfield’s eight points in the second quarter consisted of a 3-pointer by Hailey Tolle and five points by Peyton Magee, who made a 3-pointer and two-point basket. Magee led all scorers with 25 points in the win, as she collected six two-point buckets, two 3-pointers and she finished 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. 

In the second frame — with Fairfield starting the quarter trailing by six points — the Lady Lions battled to win the quarter at 12-7, but trailed by a 21-20 score at halftime. 

The quarter began with Faith Donley hitting a shot from beyond the arc 12 seconds into the quarter, followed by Magee stealing the ball and scoring two points while being fouled on a fast break opportunity with 5:33 on the second-quarter clock.

Eastern responded with seven straight points for a 21-13 lead over Fairfield, but the Lady Lions scored the final seven points of the second frame in the final 3:24 of the quarter with two free throws made by Donley, along with Magee having an “old-fashioned” three-point play and then a basket in the paint with 59 seconds left in the opening half for a 21-20 score with EHS leading as halftime arrived.

Fairfield’s defense was the star of the show in the third quarter as they held the Lady Warriors scoreless until there was 1:19 left in the frame, outscoring Eastern 8-4 in the frame, with the Lady Lions taking a 28-25 lead. 

Kassi Miller for Fairfield got the third-quarter scoring rolling 46 seconds into the frame with a big-time 3-pointer that put Fairfield ahead 23-21. Later, with 5:16 left on the clock, Fairfield scored again, this time with a jumper by Donley, moving Fairfield’s lead to four points at 25-21. 

Leonard scored the Lady Warriors’ first points of the third with a basket, but FHS responded with a made free throw with 39 seconds on the clock by Tolle. Leonard added another two points with a layup. But Fairfield scored the final points of the quarter with a put-back basket by Magee with 3.0 on the clock for a 28-25 lead. 

The Lady Lions outscored Eastern, 18-13 in the fourth quarter, with the Lady Lions opening the final quarter with baskets by Magee and Donley, as Donley’s basket was on a fast break chance, leaving Fairfield in front by seven points at 32-25.

Fairfield eventually built their lead to 11 points with 4:27 left in regulation a 38-27 as a 3-pointer from Miller, along with a 3-pointer from Magee that lifted the Lady Lions into their largest lead of the game. 

Eastern battled back with five straight points from Leonard, along with a basket by Sarah Clark, to make it a four-point Fairfield lead with 1:42 left on the clock. Clark finished the game with 15 points for the Lady Warriors, totaling five two-point baskets, and she was 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. 

Fairfield answered with two free throws made by Magee, and after Leonard made another Eastern basket, Magee was once again perfect from the free-throw line with two more made shots with 27.4 left in the game, which were the final points scored in the SHAC contest. Magee ended the game with two more made free throws, as she went 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in her final three trips to the charity stripe. 

Other Fairfield final scoring totals included Donley totaling 11 points, Miller with six points and Tolle with four points. The Lady Lions went 12-of-16 in their attempts from the free-throw line and made a total of six 3-pointers with Magee having two, Miller with two and with one each were Tolle and Donley. 

“I try to take it one game at a time, but this team has so much room for growth, and if you look down the road, it is hard to not be super excited and when they all buy in and work together,” Stackhouse said. “We try to take it one game at a time, but it is super exciting.”

Eastern’s final scoring also included McKinzie Dotson with two points. As a team, EHS finished 5-of-6 from the free-throw line.

The win improves Fairfield to 9-2 in the SHAC, second place in the Division I conference standings and 12-5 overall. Eastern moves to 9-3 in the SHAC and 17-3 overall. 

Next for Fairfield is an SHAC game at home Thursday, Jan. 26 against the Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs.