It's a new season for the Fairfield girls basketball team. Long gone are the likes of Natalie Klinker and Allix Goldhahn, the top two scorers from a season ago, but the end goal for the team is still the same: play in a state title game.
"Nobody wants to be the first group that wasn't playing on Saturday night. It's definitely a motivator for us," said Eagles head coach Dustin Gordon.
Gordon said right now his team is in the second cut of Class B. He added the team will need to be extra motivated and work even harder than they have been if they want to compete again this year. A lot of that burden falls on senior forward Kaitlyn Jones.
"There's definitely more responsibility on me just because our two main scorers are gone now so Kenna Pitcher and I have more responsibility to score for our team," Jones said.
Gordon said in the past opposing teams have schemed defensively against the Eagles to stop one or two star players. This year, the opposition will need to account for the five Gordon has on the court.
"We've kind of been dependent in the past on some really good, quality post players. We're going to be a more well-rounded scoring team, be more perimeter oriented, we're going to be more dynamic than we have been in the past," he said.
In order to be more dynamic, some new faces need to step up.
"This summer we had some pleasant surprises. Now it's time to put those together," Gordon said.
Those pleasant surprises are Kenna Pitcher and Hannah. Gordon says at the school's combined summer camp with Belt over the summer those two showed promise. But at the same camp the Eagles lost one of its best players when Aria Johnson tore her ACL.
"We were playing one on one and there really wasn't much contact. (My knee) just went out when I planted on it. But we kind of knew right away what it was," Johnson said.
Fairfield will miss Johnson's defense and scoring ability, but practicing with players from Belt, a Class C program that has won 5 out of the last 6 state titles, helped the Eagles get that much better.
Gordon added "it just puts us that much further ahead of the curve. We aren't starting from scratch. We know where we're at."
While the Eagles will still need to work out some kinks, the team knows what it takes to play on championship Saturday the second week of March.