“Not having a bench hurt us fatigue wise,” said Guards first-year Coach Stan Delus, who only had seven girls dressed due to injury. “We make some nice little runs, but then we’d have some mental lapses because we’d be fatigued. We also didn’t match up that well either.”
Down 29-17 at the half, the Guards made the most inroads versus the Lions (16-5) in the third quarter.
After both teams traded buckets to open the third, the Guards trimmed their deficit to single digits behind a slashing layup from junior guard Karina Moreno, who finished with a game-high 18 points and four steals, and then a three-pointer from Moreno with 6:01 left that was set up by a steal and assist from sophomore guard Mackenzie Dowling.
While Moreno’s triple brought the score to 31-24, Fairfax tallied the next five points to retake a 12-point advantage 59 seconds later.
The Guards were unable to make any additional headway until a three-pointer from Tiffany Kho, who was assisted by Anastasia Tsybaeva, brought Bell-Jeff to within 40-34 with 1:57 remaining.
“We talked at halftime that we needed to play stronger and make a run,” Moreno said. “We did that to start the third, but didn’t keep it going.”
Bell-Jeff’s best chance at threatening was answered by force from Fairfax, which closed the quarter with a 6-2 run capped by a running jumper from Philomena Smorynski with one second left that put the Lions back up 10, 46-36.
The Lions’ 6-2 quarter-closing spurt was followed by the first six points of the fourth quarter as a layup from senior center John’ea Thompson (17 points, three steals and two blocks) with 4:12 remaining in the game gave Fairfax its biggest lead, 52-36.