WINNSBORO — The Fairfield Central Griffins capped off their regular season Friday night by doing something no 2A Region III team had done since 2010: beat the Keenan Raiders.
While the win did not change their second place finish in the region standings, it did provide a solid jump going into the post season.
The Griffins came out early and used a solid defensive effort to hold Keenan down early. That defense, combined with quality shooting, gave the boys a chance to build an early lead. Once they got that lead, they never let up.
Akyel Richmond led the way with a double-double. Richmond had 14 rebounds to go with his 14 points. Brandon Adams led the Griffins in scoring with 23.
Coach Devin Liferidge said he was proud of the way his team played.
“This game meant nothing on paper, but it meant everything for us for momentum and beating a really quality team heading into the playoff that hasn’t been beat in a long time in region play,” he said.
Keenan came into the game with a 61-game winning streak in region play. The Raiders will head into the playoffs with a #1 seed as they attempt to defend their state title. Fairfield Central will now go into the playoffs with a #2 seed and a new confidence in their ability.
Even with the impressive win over Keenan, the Griffins have still not yet played their best game.
“It’s scary, it’s getting late, but I think we’re peaking right now,” Liferidge said. “We’re playing our best basketball right now, and as a coach, no matter what sport you’re playing, you want to be playing your best going into the post season.”
The Griffins then faced Cheraw at home in the first round of the playoffs. The Braves proved a difficult opponent and, after the Griffins built an early lead, were able to hang around long enough to be a threat at the end.
That threat turned to downright disappointment for Fairfield Central as Cheraw pulled off the 49-43 upset. The loss left several Griffins struggling to make sense of the game.
Liferidge said it was a tough loss to take.
“I felt the best basketball we played in the first five minutes, we jumped on them 9-0,” he said. “From there, we had opportunity after opportunity and we just couldn’t get consistently, we’re such a rhythm team. They broke up our rhythm, and I give them credit.”
Moving forward, Liferidge said that it is important to keep the basic formula and improve on it.
“I don’t feel like we’re doing anything that’s hindering us, I just feel like we’ve got to get a little bit better,” he said. “That was goal before the season, to get a little bit better, to get over this hump, coming in second in the region and tipping out in the early rounds. Obviously we’re not there yet, and a lot of that is on me.”