The easier path for No. 17 South Lakes would have been to pad its 13-point halftime lead and cruise to another Virginia AAA Liberty District win, distancing itself in the standings from Fairfax, the only league team to beat the Seahawks this season.

Instead, the South Lakes players allowed that lead to evaporate in the first three minutes of the second half Tuesday night and even fell behind briefly before recovering for a 50-38 semi-scramble of a win over Fairfax. Ultimately, that experience may serve them better than a blowout victory would have.

“With us being junior- and senior-heavy, I felt they were poised,” South Lakes Coach Christy Winters Scott said. “I thought the mental toughness with the kids really showed.”

The Seahawks (16-2, 9-1 AAA Liberty), who also let a lead slip away against Langley in their last outing, led 29-16 at halftime before Fairfax reeled off the first 13 points of the second half, eight courtesy of freshman guard Alex Wendling, who hit two three-pointers during the spurt, and sophomore Mackenzie Burnett who hit another.

“Three-pointers, when they come back to back to back,” Winters Scott said, “feel like eight-pointers.”

“We made their zone move from left to right, so we could get off some good shots,” Fairfax Coach Marcus Konde said of a third period that greatly outshined the other three. “To have a game where we pretty much played one quarter of basketball and we only lost by 12. . . . we feel we have better basketball ahead of us. We feel excited about our chances.”

Fairfax (12-7, 7-4) took a brief lead on a three-point play by junior guard Kylie Murphree, but South Lakes outscored the Rebels, 19-6, over the final 10-plus minutes.

“I don’t want to say we fell asleep,” South Lakes junior guard Caitlin Jensen said, “but we just lost focus a little bit,” senior guard Mary Severin added, finishing Jensen’s thought.

“They adjusted to our 1-3-1 zone by putting shooters in the corners, which was smart,” Winters Scott said, rattling off the various changes each team made on both ends of the floor. “It was a chess match, but it was fun to come out on the winning end of that after they made that run.”

Fairfax took a 32-31 lead with 2:44 to play in the third quarter but did not score again until the four-minute mark of the fourth. By that point, the Rebels trailed by 10.

The Seahawks, with no player averaging more than 11 points per game, had five girls score their first seven baskets and led by 13 at the end of the first quarter. Every player saw action in the first half, when the Seahawks made 13 of 20 field-goal attempts to four of 19 for the Rebels.

Junior center Abigail Rendle, who made her first four shots, led South Lakes with 14 points and several blocks. Senior guard Gabrielle Schultz added 13 points and sophomore forward Princess Aghayere, coming off three consecutive 10-point outings, had eight points and nine rebounds. South Lakes committed 24 turnovers.

Murphree and Wendling each scored 11 points for Fairfax, and sophomore forward Jessica Daguilh had 10 rebounds. Wendling also had seven steals.