By ROGER THOMAS
---- — FAIRFIELD – Coaches constantly work to develop their team’s depth. The contributions off the bench often are critical to a team’s success.
Injuries, sub-par performances from starters, and foul trouble can cause a coach to go to his bench early and often. Tuesday night in Fairfield, the girls’ basketball game showcased this idea as Fairfield held off the Lady Dees from Albia to win 53-47.
Both coaches admittedly knew that their teams would have to adapt to the way the game was officiated. As they shook their heads, both felt that their teams had done a good job of that.
As the fouls built up in the early going, each team had trouble establishing a fluid style of play. Add the Fairfield full-court pressure to the mix and you had a hectic, herky-jerky first quarter.
After the early going, Kylie Kurtz, Mikaela Lunsford, and Karley Williams really made major contributions to the Trojan win.
“Terrific, just terrific the way they came in and did the job,” said Fairfield coach Mick Flattery.
After Brooke Bettis opened the game’s scoring for Albia, the Trojans ran off eight straight to go up by six. Sami Fritz got her game started with a 3-pointer to give the Trojans an early 3-2 lead.
Bettis' third basket of the opening quarter tied the game at 8-8. That’s how the first quarter ended.
“We had some trouble early against their press, but as the game wore on I think we really attacked it like we needed to,” said Albia coach Larry Achenbach.
Taegen Bossard, who led Albia with 14 points, converted an old-fashioned three-point play to start the second, giving the Lady Dees an 11-8 lead. Two Trojan bench players brought Fairfield back into a 13-13 tie as Williams hit two free throws and Kurtz accounted with a big 3-pointer.
Fairfield would hold the edge for the rest of the half. One of the reasons was the play of Marissa Repp. She would have all six of her points in a three-minute stretch that ended with a 24-21 Trojan lead.
Repp would also lead Fairfield in rebounding, steals, and assists.
“This game was hard to play in especially on the defensive end,” said Repp. “I had to find a way to make plays without being too aggressive.”
Fairfield led 25-21 at the break. McKenna Ledger gave Fairfield a 27-21 lead just seconds into the third before the Lady Dees responded with a 7-0 run to go up 28-27.
Bossard attacked the back end of the Trojan press and converted another three-point play. Katie Dyson had back-to-back scores during the Albia run.
Fairfield had struggled against the Albia 2-3 zone, but Hanna Greiner and Ledger combined for 11 points on the inside of the defense in the third.
“When Dyson and Bettis are in together, their zone is really tough to handle inside,” said Flattery. “We finally started to attack them and got some points in the paint.”
Bossard had two more baskets to keep the Lady Dees close, but a three-point play by Ledger with just three ticks left on the clock pushed the Trojans’ lead 38-34 after three.
“We were getting the ball inside some early in the game, but in the third quarter we were able to score,” said Ledger. “Once we scored, they had to play us tighter and we could kick it out for scores.”
Bossard cut the lead to two just seconds into the final quarter, but back-to-back baskets by Sami Fritz and Lunsford put the Trojans up 42-36. Albia closed to within one at 44-43 but could never grab the lead.
Bettis had five points in the fourth to lead Albia, but the big quarter belonged to the Trojans' Fritz. She would have 10 of her game-high 15 points in the final quarter. Her scoring included a big 3-pointer and three free throws.
“I knew we needed to score at that point and we were controlling the tempo, so I didn’t have to hurry or force anything,” said Fritz.
“I thought we had good clock management late in the game and that helped us get to the line,” said Flattery.
Fairfield (4-2) travels to Washington Friday night and hosts Pella Saturday night.
Achenbach talked about the game his (3-2) Lady Dees played.
“This was a good game for us,” Achenbach said. “For the most part, I thought we handled the pressure and attacked the basket pretty well. I felt like we did a good job of adjusting to the way the game had to be played.”
Albia is back in South Central Conference action at Chariton on Friday.
FAIRFIELD 53, ALBIA 47
ALB 8 13 13 13 – 47
FF 8 17 13 15 – 53
Albia (47) – Makenzie Griffin 7, Taegen Bossard 14, Brooke Bettis 11, Katie Dyson 6, Haley Hudson 4, Sarah Clark 5. Totals 19-44 8-14 47.
3-point goals – 1-8 (Clark). Fouled out – none. Rebounds – 28 (Bettis 9). Assists – 7 (Griffin 5). Steals – 7 (Griffin 3). Blocks – 1 (Hudson). Total fouls – 23. Turnovers – 23.
Fairfield (53) – McKenna Ledger 10, Sami Fritz 15, Hanna Greiner 9, Marisa Repp 6, Taylor Ferrel 2, Mikaela Lunsford 3, Kylie Kurtz 4, Karley Williams 4. Totals 17-46 15-27 53.
3-point goals – 4-18 (Kurtz, Fritz 2, Repp). Fouled out – none. Rebounds – 30 (Repp 8). Assists – 12 (Repp 5). Steals – 13 (Repp 5). Blocks – 1 (Greiner). Total fouls – 20. Turnovers – 17.