BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – Tony Sargent wasn’t about to find excuses for Fort Madison’s 43-29 loss to Fairfield in Saturday’s Class 4A regional semifinal game.
The explanation for the Bloodhounds’ defeat was simple — they couldn’t make shots.
Fort Madison was 10-of-47 from the field, 2-of-22 in 3-pointers.
“When you’re shooting 20 percent, you’re not winning many games, especially this far into the season,” Sargent said.
Fairfield (11-8), which lost to Fort Madison twice during the regular season, advanced to Tuesday’s regional final at No. 6 North Scott.
The Bloodhounds finished the season 17-3, a bitter end to a season that included the Southeast Conference title.
“I told the girls we win with dignity, and we lose with dignity,” Sargent said.
Fort Madison scored 14 points in the first quarter, then was held to just six points total in the second and third quarters.
Fairfield switched out of its man-to-man defense in the first quarter, and the Trojans’ 2-3 zone bothered the Bloodhounds, especially when center Brandy Walker picked up her second foul.
“She’s been playing really good lately. (The foul trouble) really hurt,” Sargent said. “The thing about it is, her defense is usually really good. Now you’re not only losing an offensive threat, you’re losing your best player inside.”
The Bloodhounds could shoot the Trojans out of their zone. Malarie Ross, who had four 3-pointers against Fairfield in a 51-31 win on Jan. 29, didn’t have a 3-pointer in this game until the closing minute, when the outcome had been decided.
Ross finished with 14 points, but no other Bloodhound scored in double figures.
“To be honest, they didn’t hit shots tonight,” Fairfield coach Pat Pacha said. “Tonight, they weren’t able to get those shots to go down. I’d like to think it had a little bit to do with our defense.”
Fairfield led 30-20 at the end of three quarters, and the Trojans’ patience in the fourth quarter put even more pressure on the Fort Madison offense.
“We were just trying to work around for a good shot,” Pacha said.
Delaney Breen led Fairfield with 10 points. Danielle Breen had eight.
“It’s a great accomplishment for these kids,” Pacha said of the opportunity to play in the regional final. “Just excited. We know nobody thinks we have a chance on Tuesday night. I sold the kids on, ‘Hey, you’re the underdog tonight,’ and we bought into it. We’ll have our hands full but hey, we’re there.”
Sargent knew his players were disappointed. Fort Madison loses five seniors, including Walker, who was second on the team in scoring this season.
“We’ve got most everybody else back,” Sargent said. “We’ll just have to regroup, and try to figure it out. It should be fun next year.”