One year after going 18-9 overall, the Fair Grove Lady Eagles are showing they are a force to be reckoned with this season.
Fair Grove (2-0) opened the season with a runaway 52-13 win over Mountain Grove, and followed with a 66-52 win over Monett in the opening round of its home tournament on Monday.
With the win, Fair Grove advances to face Rogersville in a semifinal contest at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.
“It’s a good win for us, I told everybody coming in that Nos. 1-8, I feel like it is a really solid tournament,” Fair Grove head coach Jenny Talbert said, “Even though Monett is the No. 8 seed they are going to have a good year and they have improved a ton.
“I told the girls to be ready and I feel like we came out and got off to a good start. Monett isn’t the type of team that is going to give up and I was proud of us for playing hard and it is nice to get the first game at home under our belt.”
Fair Grove is something of a throwback with a willingness to play inside-out basketball and the Lady Eagles have a post game with a pair of terrific interior players.
“We rely on toughness and playing physical,” Talbert said. “We like to pound it inside because that is our strength. We have good size. We play play aggressive, smart defense and try to get as many post touches as we can.”
Alana Findley, a 5’10 2019 forward, scored 35 points and hauled in 13 rebounds in Monday’s season opener for Fair Grove, showcasing her ability to score points in bunches. A year ago, Findley averaged 19.7 points and 11.3 rebounds, and this year, Findley has taken her game to even higher levels. She scored 35 and 21 in the Lady Eagles’ first two games. She is averaged 11 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 4.5 steals per game and shooting 65 percent from the field.
She and 6’2 2019 post Harley Maxwell gives the Lady Eagles a tough 1-2 punch on its front line.
“(Maxwell) has improved a ton over the summer and she kind of showcased that versatility that she added to her game,” Talbert said.
Fair Grove features a young squad that is largely junior dominated with Cydney Fullerton (5’5, G), Lexi Sutherland (5’6, G) and Alexus Rust (5’4, G) teaming with Findley and Maxwell, while 2020 Maddie Clark (5’2, PG) has given the Lady Eagles some offensive punch and well-rounded guard play.
“We have two seniors (Jordan Coddington, Taylor Bell) but we have a lot of young ones as well,” Talbert said.
Top 10: Standouts from Monday’s Monett-Fair Grove (G) game