PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Fairfield avoids spoiler, bests Bethany Christian for win No. 20

Jan. 25—BENTON — For the third consecutive season, Fairfield's girls basketball team has reached 20 wins.

For nearly 24 minutes Thursday night at Fairfield High School, that verdict wasn't so straightforward.

In the 40-22 victory over visiting Bethany Christian, it was the injured Bruins — which were again without injured starters Mariah Stoltzfus, Eva Horning and Ellie Morris — who controlled the first half, taking a 14-12 lead into the break.

Bethany exercised patience on the offensive end. With all eyes on senior guard Zoe Willems, it took long possessions to find an opening for Willems to shoot or find an open teammate. With two minutes remaining in the third quarter, the score was tied at 18-18.

Ironically, it was the freshman on senior night who turned the tide.

First-year Madison Jones stepped into passing lanes and put pressure on the Bruins guards, turning the visitors over several times which resulted in easy layups off the glass to grow Fairfield's lead to 26-18 going into the final quarter.

Jones finished with 25 points on the night — 18 in the second half.

"We couldn't make a layup and then we couldn't get a stop," Fairfield head coach Kyle Hartman said after the win. "It's senior night, a weird week overall without school and without practicing but the girls did a good job of figuring things out.

"We got a lot of energy in the second half, got some steals, finally got our stops and then it resulted in some easy layups for us which was beneficial. Madison Jones, 25 [points], unbelievable tonight."

The Falcons, finally seizing momentum, never let Bethany back in the game thanks to a duo of 3-pointers that grew the lead into a 40-22 final score.

Bethany Christian head coach Krysten Parson didn't seem too upset after her team controlled a majority of the action Thursday night, despite the situation her roster is currently in.

"We just said we have to be better than we were against Culver Academy and were just forcing shots," Parson said. "There's not a shot clock up there, like, make them play defense and we're going to take really good shots. That was kind of our gameplan and I thought we executed it very well."

Parson added that she told the team "I hope you know what you're capable of," following the Bruins holding a 20-3 Class 3A school to a tight contest most of the way.

Rebounding, something Bethany had much more success at than Fairfield in the first half, became a crucial piece of the puzzle for Hartman's group to extend possessions and come away with points in most of them.

"We tried to do a box-and-one and it was just kind of weird rebounding out of it," the coach said. "We wanted to help on 30 [Willems] a lot but just some weird misses. We'll just have to shore up on that."

Fairfield was led by Jones (25 points, 5 steals, 4 rebounds), Eva Herbert (11 points), Macy Worthman (2) and Kaylee Dillion (2). The Falcons shot 17-of-48 from the floor and were 2-of-11 from beyond the arc.

Bethany tallied 14 points from Willems, adding two points each from Morgan Chupp, Karlee Crume, Cori Chupp and Leyna Borgmann. The Bruins were 9-of-31 from the floor and 0-of-9 from 3-point range.

Both teams will play Friday night for the right to win their respective conference's title.

The Bruins will travel to take on Trinity Greenlawn on the road. A win would give Bethany Christian (15-6) its second consecutive Hoosier Plains Conference title.

Fairfield meanwhile will travel to Ligonier to take on West Noble. A road win would make the Falcons (20-3) the winners of the Northeast Corner Conference with an unblemished regular season conference record.

Both teams will then get set for sectionals which begin next week. Bethany Christian faces Hamilton next Friday in the sectional semifinal round of the Class 1A postseason at Lakewood Park Christian while Fairfield awaits the winner of Tuesday's Wawasee-Lakeland matchup at West Noble. The Falcons would then play that winner in the sectional semifinal round next Friday at West Noble.


Bethany Christian — 6 8 4 4 — 22

Fairfield — 9 3 14 14 — 40

Reach Matt Lucas at 574-533-2151, ext. 240325, or at