Fairman’s big second half leads Thomas Jefferson past Woodland Hills

Wednesday, March 11, 2020 | 10:46 PM

Sophomore Graci Fairman scored 17 of her game-high 20 points in the second half, including a go-ahead layup with 43 seconds left as Thomas Jefferson edged Woodland Hills, 39-34, in a PIAA Class A girls basketball second-round game Wednesday night at Peters Township.

Fairman broke a 34-34 tie on a right-handed scoop shot while driving down the left side of the lane.

Both the Jaguars and Wolverines entered the game with a reputation for playing tight defense and both teams lived up to their rep.

“We both pride ourselves a lot on defense,” Thomas Jefferson coach Lisa Fairman said. “Quite honestly, I feel it was our defense that won us the game. It gave us the transition points when we were kind of stuck a little bit against their zone.”

After TJ took the lead, Woodland Hills missed an opportunity to tie the game when Tatiana Vasquez was called for traveling.

The Wolverines had only five team fouls and had to foul twice to put the Jaguars in the 1-and-1.

Kayla Walter wrapped her arms around Fairman in an effort to tie the ball up or get the foul call that would put TJ on the line. However, she was called for an intentional foul that led to the Jaguars’ final three points at the free-throw line.

The call happened in front of the Woodland Hills bench and did not sit well with coach Von Pitts, who was still irate long after the call.

“Horrible call,” Pitts said. “My kid clearly tied the ball up. An intentional foul call there was clearly absurd. To allow them to take the game away from my kids is truly a travesty.

“Let the kids decide the outcome of the game. Fairman goes down and makes a great shot. The game was good. I would have loved to have been a spectator watching the game as good as it was. But instead, I had to be witness to unjust officiating.”

The game was close throughout with Thomas Jefferson holding the biggest lead at 29-21 in the final minute before halftime before the Jaguars’ stall game burned them as the Wolverines scored the first half’s final points off two turnovers.

“I didn’t want to get into a run-and-gun game and give them the ball back,” Fairman said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t do a great job of controlling those possessions.”

In the second half, Graci Fairman scored 17 of her team’s 20 points in the third and fourth quarter with a pair of 3-pointers, five field goals and a foul shot.

“I told her you have to believe in yourself because your team believes in you and play with the confidence you know you have and just go out there and own it and she did,” Lisa Fairman said of what she told her daughter Graci at halftime.

While Graci Fairman owned the second half for Thomas Jefferson, senior Alyssa DeAngelo looked like she was off and running when she scored the team’s first seven points. She ended up with 11 points on the game.

“When (Woodland Hills) went to the 1-3-1 defense, that zone with their height and length put us a little bit on our heels,” Fairman said. “So I moved her from the corner to bringing the ball up. Their size made it difficult on her.”

Woodland Hills’ turnaround season ends with a record of 20-6. The Wolverines were led by junior Peyton Pinkney’s 16 points.

“That’s the game we’ve been looking for from her,” Pitts said. “She’s a heckuva player, one of the better players in the WPIAL. She’s hard to defend, she can step out and shoot the 3-ball, and she can do some things.”

Thomas Jefferson is now 20-7 and advances to the Class 5A quarterfinals for a fourth meeting this year and eighth meeting over the last two years with defending champion Chartiers Valley.

“Our girls have so much fight in them,” Fairman said. “This is the time to make memories. We know we can play with Chartiers Valley. When you make a run like this, you always want one more.”

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