The Fairfield girls’ basketball team came into their match up at Class 5A No. 12 Ottumwa Tuesday ranked No. 9 in Class 4A, but they proved that they could not only compete, but they left head coach Brian Witzenburg convinced that the Trojans are the better team, although they were unable to leave with a victory as they fell 50-46 to the Bulldogs.
“I was happy with the way we competed,” said Witzenburg. “Ottumwa is good, but we are the better team. I believe that.”
Although Ottumwa led 16-14 at the end of the first period, Fairfield had dissolved that miniscule advantage with a 11-9 offensive edge of their own during the second eight minutes of play that left the score 25 a piece at the half time break.
Both offenses struggled to score in the third quarter with Ottumwa sliding by the Trojans for a 32-31 edge going into the final period.
Shay Drish hit layups on back-to-back possesions to make it 37-34 and 39-36, respectively, with the latter coming at the 5:15 mark remaining in the game.
Unfortunately, Ottumwa regained the lead 41-39, however, junior Destiny Gridley responded with a 3-pointer to make it 42-41 Fairfield with 3:46 left to play.
After a call that should have been on 5’4 Ottumwa junior Kaylee Bix was mistakenly called on 5’10 senior Morgan Greiner, her fourth which sent her to the bench, the Trojans looked confident they could escape with a tough-road win at their Class 5A, area rivals.
After Ottumwa tied it at 44 with 1:27 left, Shay Drish tripped on the ensuing possession after a lot of contact and was called for traveling instead of a possible blocking foul that would have sent her to the line.
Bix then hit a 3-pointer with :54 remaining to make it 47-44, stole the ball with :23 left to secure a 48-46 lead and hit two successful foul shots with 2.7 on the clock to finalize the 50-46 score.
Drish led all scorers with 16 points and also had four rebounds; Ashley Bloomquist had 11 points, seven rebounds and two steals; Kara Jeffrey had nine points, two rebounds and an assist; Destiny Gridley eight points, three rebounds and an assist; Malory Jones two points, seven rebounds and a steal.
The 3-2 Trojans will look to improve to 2-0 in SEC play when they host rival Washington Friday night at FHS.