COLUMBIA — The Fairfield Central Griffins basketball team fell at Keenan on Friday by a score of 66-55.
The Griffins (11-6, 2-1) had some opportunities both early and late in the game when shots just did not fall through the hoop. After the game, Fairfield Central head coach Devin Liferidge said his team had chances, but their shots just weren’t going in.
“We really did (have some opportunities),” he stated. “I like the looks we got but the ball just went in and out.”
Fairfield took its first lead of the game when Keith Workman knocked down back to back shots, one of which included a three-pointer straight away from nearly 25 feet out.
Trailing 7-4 early, Keenan was able to counter with a three-pointer of their own from Chris Bernard to tie the game.
At the end of the first quarter the Raiders led 12-11, however Fairfield bounced back with two straight baskets to retake the lead.
Keenan answered with a 7-0 run of their own to lead 19-15. Halfway through the second quarter, Shadarius Hopkins nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at 23. Points off of turnovers fueled an 8-3 run by the Griffins to take a 31-26 advantage, however Keenan would score 10 unanswered points to end the half and lead 36-31 at the break.
Giving up the lead at the end of the first half was key according to Liferidge.
“I think that was the time for us to really put our stamp on the game,” he noted. “But they (Keenan) were able to make a little run and instead of us being up five, we were down five. That swing was hung mentally.”
Keenan came out in the third quarter and scored five straight point to stretch their lead to 10, which would prove to be too much for the Griffins. Fairfield never got closer than five for the rest of the game.
“It (basketball) is a game of runs,” Liferidge said. “We made our runs and they made their runs, but I feel like those two runs they made were huge swings in the game.”
Workman led all scorers with 23 points and both Brandon Adams and Daniel Maple chipped in nine for the Griffins.
Keenan’s Marcus Stroman was held to just six points, but the rest of his team shot well despite his limited production.
“They used five guards and were able to create space and they shot lights out,” Liferidge said after the game.
Tariq Simmons scored a team high 22 points for the Raiders with 18 coming in the second and third quarter.
Although Fairfield didn’t win the game, Liferidge liked what he saw from his team in the losing effort.
“I really feel like even though we lost there are some positives we can take out of this game,” he noted. “I absolutely feel like if we play the same game we will win the next time (against Keenan).”
Fairfield will try to right the ship tonight when they play at Pelion (2-9, 0-2), who is coming off a 64-37 loss to Columbia. Liferidge said he expects Pelion to line up in a zone defense, and hopes the Griffins can take advantage of their size and athleticism.
“Our challenge is to speed them (Pelion) up and find as many possessions as we can,” he stated. “If we can play the same pace we’ve been playing with I’ll be pleased.”
With Fairfield coming off the Keenan loss, Liferidge said his staff would use that as motivation to keep the players focused and get better one day at a time.
“My challenge to our team is just not to waste a single day,” he stated. “We have to keep our goal in mind and if we want to win a region championship we have to get back to winning. We can talk about beating Keenan the next time we see them, but that game will mean nothing if we don’t win all the games leading up to that.”
The Pelion and Fairfield Central boys will start after the conclusion of the girls’ game, which tips at 6 p.m. at Pelion.