MCLEANSBORO — Hamilton County's steady seniors got some major help from a pair of freshman to hold off Fairfield, 48-45, in a Black Diamond East girls basketball thriller Monday night inside Jerry Sloan Gymnasium.
Those seniors, Grace Lueke and Kolby Brake, scored 15 and 14 points respectively to help the Lady Foxes improve to 19-3 overall and 4-1 in the BDC East.
But it was Kaelee Karcher also reaching double figures with 13 points and fellow freshman Carson Belangee contributing sticky defense and a few buckets of her own that sealed it for Hamilton County.
"Kaelee stepped up and scored big for us tonight," said Lady Foxes coach Clint Winemiller. "Usually our two seniors score a lot of points and tonight Carson did a great job of not only guarding their best player for the longest part of the game but also taking it to the hole and scoring."
Leah Bowers scored 19 points and Kylie Stewart had 10 for Fairfield, which dropped to 17-4 and 4-1 in the conference.
"We were fortunate to get out of here with a win," Winemiller said. "Fairfield is a very good team."
You have free articles remaining.
Brake had eight of her points in the first quarter, which ended with Hamilton County leading 17-12 after a steal and layup by Belangee.
Brake dropped in a layup with 45 seconds left in the second period to give her a dozen in the stanza and give the Lady Foxes a 25-18 lead at the break.
Lueke scored to give Hamilton County its biggest lead of the night at 39-26 but that 13-point margin was quickly shaved to just six with a 7-0 run by the Lady Mules capped by two layups from Bowers.
Fairfield got to within 43-41 on a 3-pointer by Colbie Sutton, then to within one after a free throw by Madison Smith with 3:32 left after Belangee was called for an offensive foul.
But the Lady Foxes were overtaken.
Brake put in a layup on an inbounds play after a time and Karcher answered two free throws by Bowers to keep the lead. Fairfield had a chance to tie it but missed and Lueke grabbed a huge rebound that led to a free throw for a three-point spread with 45 seconds left.
Sutton missed a chance to tie it for Fairfield, then the Lady Foxes turned the ball over after passing up an open layup, but it didn't matter after Sutton missed again following a Fairfield timeout with 9.4 seconds left.
"We were lucky," Winemiller said. "We hit a couple free throws down the stretch and that was the key because we didn't do a very good job of taking care of the ball and we didn't make our layups but we found a way because our defense didn't let us down."