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Clark’s 15-point 4th quarter sends Fairfield to sectional finals 

The Highland County Press - Staff Photo - Create Article
Fairfield's Kelsey Clark led all scorers with 24 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, in the Lady Lions' Sectional Semifinal win over Westfall, Monday at FHS. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

LEESBURG — Losing their halftime lead when the third quarter had closed, the No. 21 seeded Fairfield Lady Lions had a speed bump in the first of two second-half quarters, entering the final eight minutes of their Division III SE District Sectional Semifinal game against the No. 28 seeded Westfall Lady Mustangs trailing by seven points, instead of holding a three-point lead. 

It is a good thing basketball games are four quarters, because the script finally flipped for the host Lady Lions, because they played like a team that didn’t want their season to end on Monday night. Rather, it was junior Kelsey Clark who put the Fairfield team on her shoulders, as her teammates got her the ball, and then she rarely missed in the fourth frame (scoring 15 points in the quarter), sending FHS to a 51-47 win over the visiting Lady Mustangs, moving on to the sectional finals on Thursday. 

Clark may have played her best game of the season in the final eight minutes with the season on the line. The junior post player not only dominated with baskets in the paint, but she also locked in on defense, and when back on offense her first big shot in the fourth quarter was a 3-pointer with 6:49 on the clock to make it a seven-point deficit for FHS (Westfall had a three-point play to start the fourth frame). 

“She hit a big three there for us and kind of sparked us,” Fairfield heard coach Jennifer Blue said. “She drove to the basket a couple times — I think Faith [Donley] found her, I think Kassi [Miller] found her on a dive — and then she finished.

“She had a tremendous game there when we needed her to step up.”

Following Clark’s trey, Fairfield’s Faith Donley made a free throw, and after a timeout was called, that’s when all good things went the way of the Lady Lions as they played on their home court — Grandle Gymnasium — for the final time this season. 

The first basket once play resumed was a rebound and layup by Rilee Quickle, followed by fastbreak points from Donley, and then Clark tied the score at 40 with a one-hand shot that sailed through the hoop with 3:28 left in regulation. 

Another timeout was called by Westfall, and again the Lady Lions continued their dominance with an intense style of basketball on not just offense, but defense as well. 

“We were down at seven at the start of the fourth, and I said, ‘Hey ladies, that’s a ton of time, plenty of time,’” Blue said. “I said, ‘It’s a whole quarter, just chip away. You don't have to get everything at once. We just need quality shots, and then we have to get stops on the other end.’ 

“They feed off that, the defensive intensity and our defensive pressure. If we could just keep feeding off of that, we’ll be good.”

Clark made an underhand layup, then she continued with six more points, making three consecutive baskets for a 48-40 lead with 3:10 left on the clock, putting the Lady Lions ahead by eight points at 48-40. 

Westfall stopped what became an 18-0 run (before that, Westfall had an 8-0 run of their own), with a free throw by Adrian Mosul, followed by a 3-point play by Marianna Parker and a 3-pointer from Mosul with 1:36 left in the fourth to cut Fairfield’s lead down to 48-47.

After multiple turnovers by both teams, Clark made a jumper while being fouled to put the Lady Lions’ lead back to three points with 33.2 left in the quarter, and with 19.1 remaining in the game, it was Quickle making a free throw to complete the scoring for the four-point win. 

Clark led all scorers with 24 points, totaling nine two-point baskets and two 3-pointers. She also collected seven rebounds, two steals and a block.

Donley was second in scoring for the Lady Lions with 14 points, making four two-point field goals, one 3-pointer and she was 3-of-6 from the free-throw line. Donley added six steals, five rebounds and one assist. 

The rest of Fairfield’s final scoring was Kassi Miller with six points (four rebounds, one assist, one steal), Rilee Quickle with five points (five steals, four assists, three rebounds) and Vivian Henninger with two points (five rebounds, one assist, one steal).

Also for FHS, Isabelle Hale totaled one rebound, one assist and one steal.

Fairfield held a 14-11 lead after the first quarter with Miller sinking two 3-pointers in the opening frame, making them consecutively with 6:23 and 5:44 on the clock, giving the Lady Lions a first-quarter lead of 8-2 with 5:44 on the clock. 

Also in the first for FHS, Quickle scored two points, Donley added four points and Henninger scored a basket for two points. 

Each team scored nine points in the second quarter, as Clark sank a 3-pointer and made a two-point basket, while Donley added two more made shots for four points, putting the Lady Lions in front at 23-20 when halftime arrived. 

FHS struggled in the third with just seven points scored, while Westfall had 17 points in the same quarter, putting WHS in front at 37-30. FHS lost the lead in the third with 6:30 on the clock following two free throws by Aubrey Clark of Westfall.

Fairfield in the third had had a 3-pointer from Donley and four points off two baskets by Clark. 

Fairfield’s win moves them to 9-14 overall. Westfall finishes their season at 4-18.

Next for Fairfield is a sectional final game on Thursday, Feb. 15 to be played against the No. 4 seeded Adena Lady Warriors at 6:15 p.m. at Hillsboro High School.

WHS    11 09 17 10 — 47
FHS    14 09 07 21 — 51

FAIRFIELD (51) — R.Quickle 2 (0) 1-2 5, K.Miller 0 (2) 0-0 6, F.Donley 4 (1) 3-6 14, V.Henninger 1 (0) 0-0 2, K.Clark 9 (2) 0-1 24. TOTALS: 16 (5) 4-9 51.

WESTFALL (47) — M.Packer 1 (0) 3-3 5, K.Mercurio 0 (1) 1-2 4, A.Clark 3 (1) 4-4 13, R.Moehl 2 (0) 0-2 4, I.Patete 1 (0) 0-0 2, A.Moehl 4 (2) 5-6 19. TOTALS: 11 (4) 13-17 47. 

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