DENVER – Trailing a higher-seeded team in a hostile Denver South gym on Friday night, the Fairview girls basketball team felt at halftime like it had been backed up against a wall.
For the Knights’ seniors like Adaya Richmond, that dire moment provided a surprising moment of clarity.
Realizing that it was do-or-die time in the second half, the Knights took the floor with a renewed sense of purpose and a determination that their 2019-20 season would not end in the second round of the Class 5A state tournament. Paced by 16 second-half points from Richmond, the No. 22-seeded Knights rallied to beat No. 11 Denver South, 53-45, and keep their season alive for a least a few more days.
“We went into halftime and we said, ‘This can’t be it for us,’” Richmond said. “We all talked about digging deep right here and we have to come out and give it all we got for the next 16 minutes because we don’t want them to be our last.”
Denver South junior Timiya Guevara and Fairview senior Izzy Munson both entered Friday’s game averaging 22 points per game, which was tied for the second-best scoring average in the state. With both deservedly drawing extra defensive attention from the other team, Guevara scored 20 and Munson scored 10.
After the first half ended in a 20-18 lead for Denver South, however, it was Fairview’s other players who turned the tide. Richmond, who was also matched up on Guevara for most of the game, hit four 3-pointers in the second half. Junior Makena Englund (nine points) hit a pair of fourth-quarter 3s, and forwards Kailey Page (11 points) and Emma Novak led the way while the Knights outrebounded the Rebels for extra possessions that fueled a 35-25 second half.
“A big emphasis tonight was defense and I think we really pulled through on that aspect in the second half,” Richmond said. “It honestly may be a better feeling even than winning at home because you have everyone against you. I’m excited for the next round and I think we can keep going.”
Defensively, Knights head coach Rod Beauchamp said he thought the Knights made it difficult for Guevara to score those 20 points. He was even more pleased with limiting Rebels senior Carly Dilworth, who is one of the top 3-point shooters in Colorado, to just a pair of free throws.
“We did a good job of keeping them in check, defensively, especially in the second half,” Beauchamp said. “They played the scheme we wanted. They stepped up and the players who don’t normally score the big points did a great job tonight.”
The Knights, who won 47-45 over Castle View in the first round, will play No. 6 Highlands Ranch (19-5) in the Sweet 16 on Tuesday.