PREP BASKETBALL: Fairview falls to Anniston 57-35 in Northeast Regional Semifinals

Fairview’s Payton Golden (4) led the Lady Aggies with 11 points in their 57-35 loss to Anniston Monday morning. (Martha Needham for The Cullman Tribune)

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – Fairview and Anniston met in a rematch of last year’s Northeast Regional Final early Monday morning and the Lady Aggies were looking for some revenge against the defending state champions. Fairview hung with the Lady Bulldogs in a messy game that saw over 30 combined turnovers but couldn’t keep pace with them forever. The Lady Aggies were held scoreless for the final four minutes of play and Anniston pulled away to take a 57-35 win.

It was a tough loss for Fairview but Head Coach Justin Billings is proud of the way his team fought and all they were able to accomplish this season.

“Even though we didn’t win today I am still extremely proud of my girls,” Billings said. “We have worked really hard this season and we have had some amazing memories. Hopefully we enjoyed this experience and we can use this loss as motivation for next year.”

Baskets from Katie Ball and Molly McKelvy kept the game tied at 4 early in the opening period but Anniston was able to create a little separation as the quarter progressed. Both teams were plagued by turnovers in the early morning start, but the Lady Bulldogs were able to pull ahead 8-4 midway through the first and stretched it to 12-4 with just under three minutes to play in the period. McKelvy buried a deep three to cut the lead to 12-8 late in the first quarter but Anniston was in front 14-8 by the start of the second.

Ball drilled a three-pointer to make it a 3-point game at the start of the second quarter and added a pair of free throws to cut it to 14-13. Daisy Manasco dropped in a floater to keep Fairview within one but the Lady Bulldogs managed to get back in front 20-15 with just over four minutes to play in the half. A pair of free throws Golden trimmed the lead to three with three minutes remaining in the period and she knocked down a three on the ensuing possession to make it a 22-20 game. Anniston ended the quarter on a 5-0 run and laid one in just before the buzzer to take a 27-20 lead into halftime.

Golden netted two more free throws to make it 29-24 early in the third and a three-pointer by Morgan Lindsey kept the Lady Aggies within six midway through the quarter. The Lady Bulldogs pulled ahead 37-27 with three minutes to play in the quarter but back to back buckets from Golden held the lead to 41-31 going into the final frame.

Anniston led 43-32 early in the fourth but McKelvy drilled another three to make it 45-35 with under five minutes to play. Unfortunately, that was the last basket of the day for Fairview. The Lady Bulldogs locked down the Lady Aggies defensively and finished the game on a 12-0 run to win it 57-35 and advance to the Northeast Regional Finals.

Golden led Fairview with 11 points in the loss. Ball and McKelvy each posted eight, Lindsey added three, Manasco and Maddie Yeager each finished with two and Isabella McGukin scored one.

The Lady Aggies finish the season with yet another trip to the Northeast Regional and a 19-12 record and even though they’ll lose Ball, Golden and McGukin to graduation in May, there is a lot of talent retuning to the hardwood for Fairview next season.

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