COLUMBIA CITY – The Fairfield girls basketball team used a rally and a rout to make history Saturday.
The Falcons flew to the program’s first regional championship in dramatic fashion first and then with a dominating effort to close the title run.
No. 3 Fairfield used a fourth-quarter rally to top No. 9 Fort Wayne Concordia 43-41 in a semifinal contest and then hammered No. 11 Hamilton Heights 40-21 in the title game Saturday night of the Class 3-A Columbia City Regional.
The Falcons take a 24-2 mark into a Class 3-A North Semistate clash with No. 1 ranked Northwestern (27-1) next Saturday at 7 p.m. at Logansport.
Fairfield has won nine in a row since a 61-56 loss to West Noble. Northwestern, which beat Mishawaka Marian 69-35 and Gary West 61-23 to win the Twin Lakes Regional crown Saturday, has won 20 straight games since its lone loss to Louisville Mercy 65-63 back on Dec. 1.
Coach Brodie Garber’s veteran team showed its mettle in the semifinals Saturday. The Falcons trailed 34-22 early in the final period before storming back to tip Concordia.
Fairfield, whose only previous lead was at 2-0 to open the game, used a 15-2 run to take a 37-36 lead with 2:48 left in the semifinal thriller. Senior Jenean Schwartz then hit a trey with 56 seconds left to give her team the lead for good and then drained three free throws in the final 18 seconds to seal the victory.
Schwartz led the Falcons with 13 points, with nine of those coming in the fourth quarter.
Senior Erica Zook and Felicity Bontrager each had 10 points and senior Jordan Kintigh seven, all in the second half.
Fairfield trailed 25-12 at halftime before the second-half rally.
The Falcons simply shut down Hamilton Heights in the second half of the title game win. Fairfield led 20-16 at halftime before outscoring their foes 20-5 in the final half.
Schwartz led the way with 15 points on five treys. Senior Katie Lashley had 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Zook had four points and six assists and Kintigh four points and four rebounds.
Top-ranked Northwestern rolled past No. 14 Mishawaka Marian 69-35 in the regional semifinal at Twin Lakes.
Northwestern led 12-0 to open the game and 38-11 by halftime. Kendall Bostic, a 6-1 sophomore, led the way with 24 points and 6-1 guard Madison Layden scored 12 points.
Marian, which was making its first-ever regional appearance, played without point guard Mikiya Roby. The junior was sidelined due to a concussion suffered in the sectional final a week earlier.
Senior star Meghan Urbanski, the Knights’ all-time career scoring leader, led Marian with 11 points.
The Knights, coached by former Elkhart Memorial coach Steve Scott, finish at 21-5.