SIDNEY — Fairlawn hasn’t won a Shelby County Athletic League game since the 2015-2016 season and came close on Thursday. Houston’s Jess Monnier was too much for the Jets to handle in the second half, though, and led a rally.
After the Jets jumped out to a four-point halftime lead, Monnier scored 13 of her game-high 20 points in the second half to help lead Houston to a 38-31 win.
Although Houston coach Brad Allen said Thursday’s game showed the team still has plenty to work on, he said he’s happy with the improvement the squad has shown lately. The win is the fifth for Houston in its last eight games. The Wildcats (6-11, 3-7 SCAL) lost their first seven games.
“We had some injury problems at the beginning,” Allen said. “Since then, we’ve been playing better. Some of the teams we’ve been playing, we’ve played close. …We’ve had some squirts of good quarters and good halves. We’ve tried to put all that together to get ready for our sectional draw.”
Though Fairlawn’s league losing streak continues, coach Gavin Cathcart said the game is showing the team is improving. When the Jets (3-15, 0-9) picked up their first win of the season in November against Indian Lake, they broke a 27-game losing streak.
“We’re so much better,” Cathcart said. “Ball handling was our weakest point last year, and it’s going to be one of our strengths by the end of the year. We just don’t quite have the depth and experience right now, but we’re getting closer.”
Monnier scored two baskets in the first 90 seconds of the third to tie the game 19-19. After a Fairlawn basket, Monnier scored a shot off the glass and then made a free throw to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game at 22-21.
Monnier made a basket with 5:20 left in the third to put the Wildcats up by three.
“We thought we could take advantage inside,” Allen said. “Once we started feeding her, she did a good job underneath. We needed that.”
Houston quickly racked up the fouls in the quarter and put Fairlawn in the bonus by the 2:00 mark. The Jets made 7-of-13 free-throw attempts in the second half to keep close, but Houston’s offense kept scoring.
“That kind of put a damper on things, trying to make a comeback,” Allen said of the fouls. “The girls did a good job of playing through that.”
With the score tied 26-26 with 6:43 left in the fourth, Monnier made back-to-back baskets over the next 90 seconds to put the Wildcats ahead for good.
Hayden Riesenbeck made a basket with about four minutes left to push Houston’s lead to 32-26. MaCalla Huelskamp made two free throws for Jets with 1:20 left to bring Fairlawn with 34-31, but Riesenbeck made a layup after a steal with 28 seconds left and Monnier made two free throws with five seconds left to close out the win.
Riesenbeck finished with eight points for Houston, all of which came in the second half. Huelskamp and Allison Roush led Fairlawn with eight points each.
Fairlawn (3-15, 0-9) plays again next Thursday at Jackson Center.
“We’re getting there, just have to get a little bit better,” Cathcart said. “We just play hard. After being so super young last year as freshman and sophomores, you can see the improvement with us being sophomores and juniors. We don’t graduate anybody this year and will get a couple more players back from injuries, so we should be ready to roll next year.”
Fairlawn jumped out to a 6-3 lead early, but Morgan Ely hit a jumper for Houston to cut the deficit to one with 2:21 left. Lauren Dudgeon hit a free throw with 47 seconds left, then Huelskamp hit a jumper off the glass with 30 seconds left to boost the Jets’ lead to 9-5.
The Wildcats pulled within 15-13 on a basket by Monnier with 3:03 left in the second, but Huelskamp and Graves hit baskets over the next 2:30 to put Fairlawn up by six. Hollie Voisard scored on a shot off the glass after a steal to cut the Jets’ lead to 19-15 at halftime.
“It was a challenging first half for us,” Allen said. “We couldn’t get anything jumpstarted. They took us out of our offense and our defense. They got the rebounds and were boxing us out. We just told the girls at halftime to be composed, come out and have some fun and play basketball the way that we know that they can. They responded to that.”
Houston plays next on Monday at Newton.
Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News
Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.