WINNSBORO — The Fairfield Central Griffins (17-7, 7-2) basketball team saw its opportunity to seize a region title slip away Saturday night with an 82-77 loss to Keenan.
Despite losing to a top-notch team, Fairfield displayed a valiant effort and kept the game close at the end, trailing by only four points with 30 seconds remaining.
Fairfield Central head coach Devin Liferidge was pleased overall with his team’s effort, but thought the physical game-play affected his team’s mentality.
“Physically and from a mental stand point we have to be able to adjust to the game,” he noted. “The effort was there and the kids played hard, we just dug ourselves in a hole with too many turnovers. Early on we made some poor decisions handling the ball and reading defenses.”
Foul calls affected the Griffins style of play felt and Liferidge believed the numerous foul calls hurt his team’s ability to play aggressive.
“We were on our heels about and had to take a step back defensively,” he said after the game. “And when we have to take a step back, that’s not who we are and not how we’re accustom to playing.”
Arguably Keenan’s best player — Marcus Stroman — took 26 free throws and made 20 of them.
“He (Stroman) is one of the best guards in the state, but we have to be able to fight through adversity,” Liferidge noted.
Keith Workman scored Fairfield’s first five points to give the Griffins a 5-4 advantage early on, but Keenan outscored Fairfield 11-5 to end the first quarter and take a 15-10 lead heading into the second quarter.
The Griffins were never able to recapture the lead. Fairfield pulled within four points twice during the final minute, but were unable to keep Stroman off the foul-line.
Workman finished with a team-high 21 points, but Stroman led all scorers with 36 points.
After the game, Liferidge said his team’s goal is still attainable.
“I told the guys that the goal doesn’t change,” he noted. “I still feel like we’re a state championship caliber team. Our path may have change, but we’ve got some things we can work on and still get better.”
Originally scheduled for tonight, Fairfield’s game against North Central has been moved to Friday night because of impending winter storms.