Fairfield’s stay in San Antonio just extended into a long weekend, as the Lady Eagles (34-4) defeated Dallas Lincoln in the 4A State Semifinals, 76-51, to head to the program’s first State Championship game tomorrow night.
After coming up short in the State Semifinals in 2011, the Lady Eagles used a strong 40-24 second half effort to take over the contest, held at the Alamodome in the River City.
Efficient offense and smothering defense were the one-two punch needed to push the Lady Eagles into the final, where they will face off against defending five-time 4A State Champion Argyle (32-6), led by reigning State Tournament MVP Rhyle McKinney. Argyle defeated Fredericksburg in their Semifinal, 49-38.
Senior Jada Clark led the way in scoring, dropping 23 in the victory, including nine during the key third quarter run. Clark was hounded all game by Lady Tigers guards, including a hard personal foul by Alexis Brown in the second quarter. The senior calmly nailed both free throws after the tough fall to the Alamodome floor.
In the early going, the two teams traded runs, with the Lady Tigers’ three-point shooting keeping Lincoln in the game. A three by Heaven Johnson turned the game into just a 15-13 Lady Eagles advantage late in the first quarter.
At that score, Freshman McKinna Brackens took over, grabbing a rebound on her own miss and scoring a paint bucket with 57 seconds on the clock. Just seconds later, another Brackens layup, followed by a Clark buzzer-beater, made the advantage 21-13.
Brackens was all over the floor in the first, scoring seven points and performing two emphatic blocks on defense. The freshman would end with a balanced box score of 10 points, 12 rebounds, a team-high seven assists, two blocks and two steals.
Things began to open up in the second, with a Braden Bossier bucket sealing a 12-point lead at the 5:27 mark. Two threes later from the Lady Tigers’ Nakia Brumley and Jamya Maryland, and the advantage was just 27-21.
Clark and Bossier went to work to end the first half, scoring six of the team’s final nine points to hold a 36-27 lead at the break. The Lady Tigers were sticking around due to offensive rebounding (15-10 advantage) and the three-point barrage (6-18 from deep).
The Lady Tigers’ shooting went ice cold in the second, as Fairfield began to put increasing pressure on the legs of the opponents. The fast pace wore down Lincoln, with the team not hitting a single three-pointer in the second half, despite 18 more attempts from deep.
With the score 38-31 early in the third, Clark pushed her team again, scoring two layups that sparked a 9-0 Lady Eagles run, also highlighted by a three-pointer by Jarahle Daniels. The Lady Eagles only took five threes all game, but nailed three of them. Holding onto a 16-point lead, Fairfield went tit-for-tat with the Lady Tigers until the third buzzer sounded. 56-38, Lady Eagles, heading into the fourth.
The final frame was more of the same, with the Lady Tigers’ frustration leading to consistent Fairfield foul line opportunities. Eight Lady Eagles free throw makes helped seal the win, 76-51.
Running the Lady Tigers out of the gym throughout the contest, Fairfield doubled their opponent in fast break scoring (12-6), as Lincoln appeared winded early. The Lady Eagles were ready for any pace, though, owning the half-court game and doubling up the Lady Tigers in paint points, 44-22. This included 36 points from layups.
The team also grabbed 58 rebounds during the game, leading to double-doubles for Bossier (15 points, 10 rebounds), Brackens (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Breyunna Dowell (16 points, 16 rebounds). Dowell’s toughness was felt all afternoon, with the sophomore grabbing eight offensive boards. With 4:12 left in the third, Dowell grabbed her own miss twice, leading to a tough put-back.
Dowell’s impact on the game (in just 15 minutes of action) was felt in the advanced statistics as well. When the sophomore was on the floor, 93 percent of the Lady Eagles’ possessions ended in at least one point. She also led all players in the game score statistic, a measure of on-court productivity, with 20.3.
The Recorder's coverage of the 4A State Championship game from the Alamodome begins at 7 p.m. tomorrow. Fans can tune into 99.1 KNES Radio, subscribe to NFHS Network, and stay following the Recorder Facebook page for more updates.