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After a couple of easy wins to start the CIF City Section Division 1 playoffs, the Fairfax High School girls’ basketball team’s season came to an end on Feb. 25 as they fell 65-52 to Carson High School in the semifinals of the CIF City Section playoffs. The Fairfax Lady Lions got off to a sluggish start, managing just 10 points in the first quarter and trailed by 13 at halftime. The Carson Colts were ranked No. 2 in the division and came out with pressure defense against the Lady Lions, forcing them to turn the ball over many times.
“We were not ready for the pressure,” head coach Judi Edwards said. “We just came out with a lack of intensity.”
Edwards was further disappointed because her team had faced similar type of pressure in previous games this season. The Colts also worked harder than the Lions on the offensive glass, as the Colts grabbed 20 offensive rebounds. The Colts finished the game with 40 rebounds, with three of their players each grabbing 10.
The Lady Lions trailed by as many as 20 at one point, but finally righted the ship to start the second half, outscoring the Colts 17-14 in the third quarter. They were eventually able to cut the deficit to eight points, but could not manage to get any closer.
“They fought all the way to the end,” Edwards said. “Once they got grounded, they played great, but it was too late.”
Despite the disappointing loss, the Lady Lions did qualify for the CIF State playoffs by advancing to the semifinals. Edwards acknowledge her team was very disappointed after the loss but said the team would have to get over it and prepare for the state playoffs that start next Tuesday.
“We are trying to get them rebuilt for state,” Edwards said. “We have a lot of work to do on the floor as well as with rebuilding their psychological state of mind.”
Edwards also said they will work on handling defensive pressure in practice so that her team will make better decisions with the ball while under duress.
“We won’t fold when the pressure comes this time,” Edwards said.
The Lady Lions are a young team with only three seniors, none of them starters. They are led by sophomore power forward and leading scorer, John’ea Thompson, who is almost fully recovered from an ankle sprain she suffered on the last week of the season.
The rest of the starting five consists of juniors, and Edwards said their youth and inexperience showed up in the loss to Carson, with players visibly upset on the floor.
“Our confidence still wavers in big games because of our youth,” Edwards said. “I told them they are the leaders and heartbeat of the team. When their confidence wavers, the rest of the team’s confidence follows.”
The Lady Lions will start the state playoffs on the road but their opponent has not been determined. Edwards said she expects the game to be a tough matchup but, regardless of the outcome, the experience of playoff basketball will serve the young Lady Lions well when they return next season.