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Fairfield’s comeback effort not enough in sectional final loss to Adena

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Fairfield senior Faith Donley scored 18 points in her final high school game, Thursday against Adena. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

HILLSBORO — If there was one thing that could be said about the 2023-24 Fairfield Lady Lions — as head coach Jennifer Blue stated — it was the girls team never quit, and they showed improvement throughout the season. 

The first time the Fairfield Lady Lions faced the Adena Warriors — their opponent on Thursday night in the Division III SE District Sectional Final game played at Hillsboro High School — there was a running clock involved, with Fairfield losing 53-19.

Fast forward to mid-February, and in the sectional final game and the game was tied multiple times, Fairfield held a slight lead on one occasion, and in the final quarter gave the home team Lady Warriors all they had to offer. The final result saw FHS get as close as three points to the lead with 1:16 left in regulation, to ultimately the Adena squad winning the game and advancing to the district round with a 58-49 win over the Lady Lions. 

“I am proud of our girls and the heart that they showed and the hustle that they left on the floor,” Blue said. “I can't ask much more from them. They gave us 110 percent, and that's all we could ask for. 

“We opened up with Adena, and they had a running clock on us. To take them down to the wire, that shows the growth that we had, so we can't ask for much more than that.”

The Lady Lions had two players finish with 18 points each in what was the final game of the season, with Fairfield’s lone senior Faith Donley scoring 18 points in her final high school game, with seven two-point baskets and a 4-of-4 performance from the free-throw line. 

“Faith is amazing,” Blue said. “There's not enough words to describe what she means to this team, and the hustle and everything that she puts into this program. She gave 110 percent. She left it out there. She's an amazing kid, student, athlete. You couldn't ask for a better leader than what we had in her, and I'm blessed to have her as part of our team this year.”

Junior Kelsey Clark also had 18 points for Fairfield, finishing the game with six two-point baskets and two 3-pointers. 

FHS also had 11 points scored by Rilee Quickle, with the junior sinking four baskets from two-point range and one 3-pointer. The rest of the Lady Lions’ scoring included Isabelle Hale and Kassi Miller each scoring one point. 

The first quarter saw the first half of the frame have the Lady Warriors leading 7-2 with 4:21 left in the quarter, as Adena had four points from Kiera Willams and Sydney Ater added three points in that early span of time. Fairfield’s early points were scored off a basket by Clark. 

FHS eventually got to within three points of tying the score on two occasions in the first quarter with Clark sinking a jumper with 3:42 on the clock, and later, a steal and layup from Donley with 1:38 left in the quarter. 

Fairfield trailed by a 14-8 score when the first quarter closed and the second quarter opened, and that six-point deficit quickly went to a 12-point deficit as the Lady Warriors scored five points to start the quarter for a 20-8 lead with 6:23 left in the second frame. 

The Lady Lions answered with a 3-pointer, a forced turnover and another two-point basket, as all five points came from Quickle, with the score being 20-13 with 5:39 left in the second. 

Adena built their lead back to nine points, but the Lady Lions continued to battle with points from Donley and Clark for a three-point deficit with 1:29 left in the quarter, leaving the score at 22-19. 

Adena scored two points, but FHS made it another three-point deficit at halftime with Donley sinking a jumper with 1:00, and as time expired she blocked a shot, putting the score at 24-21 as the second quarter finished with the Lady Lions trailing by only three points. 

Fairfield took the lead to start the third quarter, beginning the quarter with a steal and fast break points by Donley, followed by Quickle driving to the hoop for a bucket with 5:47 left in the quarter for a 25-24 Fairfield lead. 

Adena came back with a basket, but the Lady Lions regained the lead with points by Clark, and after Donley added two more points for FHS, it was the Lady Lions leading 29-26 at the 4:57 mark of the third quarter.

The Lady Warriors called a timeout following those baskets and tied the score with 4:40 left in the third with a three-point play by Emma Garrison for a 29-29 score. Garrison finished the game with 22 points to lead Adena, scoring her points off five two-point baskets, two 3-pointers and she was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. 

Fairfield took the lead back with a free throw made by Hale with 4:31 on the clock, but five straight points combined from Adena’s Williams and Garrison left the Lady Warriors ahead 34-30. 

Quickle brought FHS back to within two points, but Adena was there, once again, to build a four-point lead. The back-and-forth battle continued with the teams exchanging baskets, until Fairfield eventually tied the game at 38 with two points from Quickle with 1:09 left.

Adena took a one-point lead as the third frame wrapped up, leading 39-38 going into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Adena never trailed, but the two teams were tied once with 4:45 left in the fourth following a put-back basket by Donley for a 43-43 score. 

From the 4:32 mark of the fourth until the game ended, it was AHS outscoring Fairfield 15-6, with Fairfield’s last basket coming with 1:16 left in regulation. From the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, Adena was 13-of-13, including making their final six free throws in the final 23.7 seconds of the game.

Adena improves to 21-2 overall this season, and the Lady Lions end the year at 9-15 overall, as they were 5-8 in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play and 1-1 this postseason. 

“I told the girls in the locker room, look how much we grew in three months. Imagine what we can do in nine,” Blue said. “We're just going to take a little bit of time off here, and then in April we’ll hit the gym and get ready for next year.”

    08 13 17 11 — 49
AHS    14 10 15 19 — 58

ADENA (58) — K.Williams 4 (0) 0-4 8, K.Sowers 1 (0) 4-6 6, M.Halcomb 4 (1) 2-2 13, C.Day 0 (0) 2-2 2, S.Ater 1 (1) 2-2 7, E.Garrison 5 (2) 6-6 22. TOTALS: 15 (4) 16-22 58.

FAIRFIELD (49) — I.Hale 0 (0) 1-2 1, R.Quickle 4 (1) 0-0 11, K.Miller 0 (0) 1-2 1, F.Donley 7 (0) 4-4 18, K.Clark 6 (2) 0-0 18, M.Jackson 0 (0) 0-2 0. TOTALS: 17 (3) 6-10 49.

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