WINNSBORO — The Fairfield Central girls’ basketball team saw their season come to any early end Saturday night when they lost to Keenan 40-27 in the second round of the state playoffs.
Lady Griffin all-star and leader Jada Martin went down in the third quarter with a knee injury and did not return.
Fairfield Central head coach Cedrick Simpson believes his team lost a building momentum when Martin exited the game.
“It looked like we were returning to our old selves and then we just went downhill (after Martin’s injury),” he said. “When you see your leader go down its hard and when it happens within the game its a completely differently feeling and there just wasn’t enough time (to comeback).”
Fairfield had just taken their first lead, but Martin came down wrong after going up for a shot and twisted her knee on the way back down. She was in noticeable pain clenching her left knee.
Simpson said earlier this week she was still awaiting the results of an MRI.
Fairfield was trailing 13-9 at halftime, but scored five unanswered points to start the third quarter and go on top of Keenan.
The Lady Griffins took the lead off a three-point play from Raven Rivers, who finished with a team-high 12 points. Rivers was the only Lady Griffin to crack double digits.
Fairfield’s 14-13 advantage would be short-lived, because of Martin’s injury and a 9-0 counter from Keenan. The Lady Raiders would never trail again after retaking the lead.
Simpson believes his team still had a chance despite losing their all-star player to an injury, but could not convert on their opportunities.
“We still had a chance, but we just missed too many shots,” he noted.
Keenan started the game on a 5-0 run and Fairfield didn’t score their first point until the 2:53 mark in the first quarter, which came from a Christian Thompson bucket.
The Lady Griffins missed their first 10 shots, including open layups and free-throws. For the game, Fairfield finished 4-11 from the charity stripe.
“It was one of those situations that you can’t explain as a coach,” Simpson said after the game. “We just did not put the ball in the hole.”
Fairfield’s first made three-pointer didn’t come until the end of the third quarter, when Rivers buried one from beyond the arc to pull the Lady Griffs within five heading into the final frame.
Keenan scored five points to start of the fourth quarter and would continue to stay out in front of Fairfield.
The Lady Raiders defense prevented Fairfield from driving to the basket by clogging the lane with Leon Hill. Hill finished with a game-high 13 rebounds and 15 blocks. Hill’s ability to block shots was key according to Simpson.
“That was huge because every time we got to the basket she would reject the shot,” he noted. “She (Hill) played very well and did her job.”
Keenan outscored Fairfield 18-10 in the final eight minutes as they coasted to a 40-27 victory.
The Lady Raiders played at Andrew Jackson on Wednesday for a chance to appear in the upper state finals.
Fairfield Central’s season ended with a 17-5 record. Despite the disappointing loss, the 2014 Lady Griffins achieved something no other Fairfield Central girls’ basketball team has done — win a region III-AA title.
Simpson was recently announced as the region III-AA coach of the year. Martin was named both the Region III-AA player of the year as well as the state’s AA player of the year.
The Lady Griffins earned the second round playoff berth after throttling Indian Land in the opening round of the state tournament. The Fairfield Central girls won 74-40 over the Warriors of Indian Land.
Using a 42-18 lead at halftime, the Lady Griffins controlled the game from the opening tip.
Fairfield came out of the locker room and extended their lead by using a 13-2 run to start the third quarter.
Indian Land missed four of their first five shots in the third quarter and Fairfield’s defense forced 15 turnovers in the second half.
In the second half, the Lady Griffins were led by Chyna Moore’s seven points. Jada Martin and Raven Rivers each added six.
Fairfield was perfect from the charity stripe in the second half by knocking down all six of their free throws collectively.