Fields steps up for Central

Cianne Fields

Cianne Fields wasn’t going to let it happen again.

With the memory of last season’s Bull Run District girls basketball tournament quarterfinal loss to county rival Strasburg burning hot in her mind, the Central High School junior was determined to help the Falcons avoid a similar fate when they squared off with the Rams in precisely the same scenario early last week.

Fields delivered with a fourth-quarter outburst that helped Central ward off the Rams, 41-38, in their district quarterfinal game on Feb. 9, giving the Falcons their third win over their longtime rivals this season.

“They had been beating us until the fourth quarter, which kind of surprised me because I knew they wanted it but I didn’t know that we were going to slack that much,” Fields recalled on Wednesday afternoon. “I knew I had to pick it up myself. I just started taking it to the hoop more and kind of taking charge, making sure we didn’t fall too far behind.”

Fields’ performance against Strasburg, which she ended with 18 points, and her 13-point effort in a loss to George Mason in the district semifinal round on Feb. 10 netted her the Northern Virginia Daily’s Female Athlete of the Week honor for Feb. 8-14.

Against the Rams, Fields noticed certain characteristics of Strasburg’s defense and made a focused effort to attack the basket in the fourth period. She scored 10 of her 18 points in the final period, and made two free throws with five seconds left in the game to put the Falcons up by three.

“I started noticing that Strasburg wasn’t really playing tight defense in the paint,” Fields said. “They were double-teaming Tamra [Scott] so it wasn’t easy to get points in the paint. So I just thought, ‘Well, let me see what happens if I start driving.’ And it worked, so I kept doing it.”

Fields’ determination late in the game against Strasburg came as no surprise to Central’s coaching staff. Falcons assistant coach Sarah Swartz quickly pointed out Fields’ persistent work ethic as one of her greatest attributes.

“Every practice … Cianne has always been the worker for us. She works really hard. I’ve never had to get on her for effort,” Swartz said.

“She works hard in everything that she does and she’s just an athlete. And she’s just a good kid. She’s always respectful. She’s never been disrespectful. She listens to instructions well. She always asks questions. She’s just a hard worker. I can’t say enough about her personality.”

Fields’ unrelenting work ethic, however, does often clash with breathing problems that the junior has had to cope with this season. Fields said she was surprised to learn that she had asthma prior to the start of the basketball season, and she often uses an inhaler prior to games to alleviate the condition.

Fields has avoided any major asthma-related complications on the court this season, but she does feel the effects from time to time.

“It depends on how hard I go,” Fields said. “If we get a good lead I won’t push myself too hard, but if it’s a tough team I definitely have to ask coach for a couple breaks or else I won’t be able to play the remainder of the game.”

Fields has been too valuable for the Falcons this season to be sidelined for significant periods of time during games. The guard is second on the team in scoring (10.7 points per game) and assists (1.3 per game), and she’s third in steals (1.7 per game).

Swartz said Fields has “definitely grown” as a scorer during her junior season, but Fields is just as valuable on the defensive side of the ball. Swartz called Fields one of Central’s best defenders.

Fields said she learned how to become an effective on-ball defender by guarding former teammate and Central’s all-time leading scorer Katelyn Poston during practices last season.

“You have to give them some space and kind of watch their body language. Body language is a big thing because if you don’t know how to read body language you don’t know how to play defense,” Fields said. “That’s one thing that you just have to pick up for yourself.”

Central (17-7) is scheduled to play at No. 2 Loudoun Valley in the Conference 28 tournament semifinals at 6 p.m. Thursday following a change in the tournament setup. The third-seeded Falcons were originally scheduled to host William Monroe before the quarterfinal rounds were eliminated due to concerns over time constraints following the area’s recent bout with bad weather that delayed the start of the tournament.

Fields is eager to get back on the court with her teammates as the Falcons seek to defend their conference tournament title, but she is just as excited about the possibilities next season.

“I’m definitely looking forward to next year because we’re keeping pretty much the same group of girls,” Fields said. “… Next year I feel like the chemistry is just going to be crazy because we’ve already played a whole season together, we’re all friends with each other and I feel like we’re really going to bond and show people what we’re worth next year.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com