CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — Fairfield Central basketball began its holiday break by participating in the 24th annual Kreul Classic Tournament in Coral Springs.
The Kreul tournament is one of the country’s premier national high school basketball events, which serves as the primary fund-raising vehicle for the Kreul academic scholarship program.
Thirty two teams were split up into four brackets with eight teams in each bracket. Fairfield competed in the Publix Challenge bracket.
Fairfield lost to Dillard (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 81-60 on Dec. 19 but were able to bounce back and beat Western (Davie, Fla.) in a defensive battle by a score of 29-28 on Dec. 20. The Griffins won the silver bracket championship to leave Florida with a tournament trophy.
Fairfield Central head coach Devin Liferidge said he was pleased with his team’s ability to play big in a nationally recognized tournament.
“My guys were pretty excited,” he stated. “It really was a good learning experience and all things considered, we were happy to get two out of three wins.”
Liferidge said that Western’s head coach Steve Todd hinted that his team wanted to slow the Griffins down on offense. The Western defense did just that, because Fairfield spent multiple possessions on defense for 60 seconds to 90 seconds at a time.
Liferidge noted that Western was an extremely good team that was fundamentally sound.
“It was smart coaching on his (Todd’s) part to slow us down and they executed that style well,” he said. “We had to play with patience and stops were valuable because we never knew when we would get the ball back.”
Rebounding was key to the Griffins’ success because it limited second chance opportunities for Western.Liferidge said his team did a good job boxing out on the boards.
“That was a good test for us,” he stated. “We just preached to our guys to be patient on defense because they were going to make 12 to 15 passes per possession and we knew we had to stay put defensively and be ready to defend for a long time.”
With that one-point win Fairfield advanced to the silver bracket championship game, where they defeated St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 56-50 on Dec. 21.
“They (St. Thomas Aquinas) had a lot of length, were very athletic and shot the ball well,” Liferidge said. “It was a really good test for us compared to what we will see in region play and I’m happy we came out on top.”
Keith Workman made the all-tournament team and led the Griffins in scoring in all three games by averaging 20.3 points per game.
“Keith played really well for us and he did it in front of a lot of other coaches and scouts,” Liferidge noted.
Fairfield’s next contest is not until Jan. 3 when they play at Chester. With just two non-region games on the immediate schedule left, the Griffins will start region III-AA play on Jan. 10 versus Columbia.
Basketball tryouts are now complete, and Liferidge said his roster is finalized and the team is settling into a rotation.
“We’ve got our starting line-ups in place, we’re just trying to find the first two or three guys off the bench,” he stated.