With 12 seconds left in the game, Fairfield coach Brodie Garber drew up a play he felt would give his team the best chance at a game-winning shot and a berth in the state championship.
It didn’t go according to plan.
A Bailey Willard three-pointer fell short in the closing seconds as the Falcons fell 35-34 to Frankton in the Class 2A North Semistate at LaPorte High School on Saturday.
“I think they knew who they had to come down on,” said Garber, referring to junior Brea Garber. “Credit to them, they just didn’t allow us to get a good look.”
The final play came after a baseline drive bucket by Frankton’s Bailee Webb put the Eagles up by one. It was the last of a trio of lead changes over the final two minutes of regulation. Brea Garber did get the initial inbounds pass, but gave it off to Willard as defenders hounded her.
A Brea Garber layup put the Falcons (24-4) up by one with less than two minutes to go. It was Fairfield’s first lead since the first half.
Frankton (23-5) would fail to convert on its next possession and Fairfield appeared to be in prime position to hold on. But a five-second call with 51 seconds remaining gave the ball back to the Eagles, leading to Webb’s bucket with a dozen seconds left.
Fairfield struggled throughout much of the game to find much rhythm offensively. Brea Garber finished with 16 points but had a tough time getting good looks over the course of the afternoon.
Meanwhile, Frankton struggled with its outside shooting but was able to get to the hoop with regularity against Fairfield’s 2-3 zone. While the Eagles’ leading scorer Lauryn Bates was held to three points in the first half and 10 overall, sophomore Emma Sperry picked up the slack, going for 13 over the first two quarters and 17 overall.
While Fairfield’s season ends on a sour note, it is set to return the majority of its production next season, including Brea Garber, Morgan Gawthrop and Willard.
“In a lot of ways we are where Frankton was a few years ago with a lot of underclassmen,” Brodie Garber said. “We told the youngsters we hope this experience pays off.
“But you could tell from today there is still some work to do for sure.”