WINNSBORO — The Fairfield Central boys basketball team picked up two big region wins this week and extended the winning streak to eight.
The Griffins are now 8-1 in 2A Region III play and in prime position to make a run at the post season.
Last Friday, the Griffins visited Columbia High School. The Capitals were looking to avenge a last-minute loss at Fairfield Central on Jan. 5.
The Griffins were ready though, and jumped out to a big lead early on, doubling Columbia’s score to end the opening quarter 14-7.
The Capitals weren’t done and fought their way back to within a point with just a few minutes to go in the game. When the Griffins emotional leaders, Chandon Davis and Akyel Richmond, fouled out, things looked dire.
Coach Devin Liferidge was confident and his team finished the game on a 9-0 run to win 60-50.
Liferidge said senior Cam Roseberry was a key factor in finishing the game.
“Cameron’s dive on the floor in the fourth quarter, as simple a play as it was, it changed the course of the game,” Liferidge said. “It was an effort play, and being a veteran leader, he just understood the moment.”
The Griffins focus has been on finishing games and that focus has shown.
“That’s something that we’ve been deliberate about, how to close games,” he said. “We spent some time in practice, Coach Stephens has done a great job of talking the kids through game situations. I think tonight Marcus and Brandon did a perfect job of handling pressure and playing at the right pace.”
Tuesday, the Griffins faced another region opponent looking to avenge a close loss. In January, the Griffins got a buzzer beater from Akyel Richmond to lift them over Eau Claire on the road, and the Shamrocks wanted to return the favor.
Early on, it was all Fairfield Central as they jumped out to a 20-8 lead in the opening quarter and finished the first half ahead 39-28. The third quarter saw the tables turn as Eau Claire stepped their game up and closed to within 2.
The Shamrocks would take the lead late in the fourth quarter and looked ready to upset the Griffins when Jordan Pauling put an end to their run.
With only seconds remaining, Pauling hit a three-pointer that put the Griffins up for good. The Shamrocks had enough time for one more basket but the Griffins held on for the 66-65 win.
Coach Liferidge said his team became too relaxed after their quick start to the game.
“We chewed them out at the half and they looked at us like we were crazy,” he said. “We challenged them, you got to finish good teams and this is a good team, and they were just saying we’re up 11.”
Liferidge said he was proud of the senior leadership on display at the end.
“Jordan Pauling came off the bench and made a big shot. He had enough guts to stay composed and when his opportunity came, he was ready to shoot,” the coach said. “Cleet’s charge was huge, and our defensive stops at the end were huge.”
Reach James Inabinet at 803-635-4016.