NEWBERRY — The Fairfield Central (14-6, 4-1) boys basketball team went on the road Saturday and defeated the number two ranked Bulldogs of Newberry (15-4, 5-0) in overtime 90-85.
Fairfield Central has now won nine of their last 10 games and head coach Devin Liferidge said the packed gym provided a playoff-type atmosphere between the county-line rivals.
“It was like a heavy-weight fight that went back and forth between two very good teams,” he noted. “It was just two good teams trying to get the best of each other. I don’t think we could play in a more hostile environment than what we put our kids through on Saturday (at Newberry).”
It was the first time Newberry has been defeated at home all season, and Liferidge believes his team showed character and resiliency in the victory.
“That was a huge game for us and best most entertaining games I’ve ever been apart of,” he said. “It was two really good basketball teams going at it and it was a fun game to be apart of.”
The Griffins fell behind by as many as 18 early in the first quarter, but Liferidge was proud of the way the players on the bench continue to support the players on the floor despite things not going their way.
Fairfield closed the gap to an 11-point deficit by halftime. According to Liferidge, the tide started to turn in the third quarter.
“I thought we handled the pressure better in the second half,” he stated. “We just took care of the ball better.”
The Griffins had only eight turnover in the second half, compared to 11 in the first half. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Fairfield cut Newberry’s lead to just four points.
With two minutes left in regulation, the Griffins took their first lead of the second half off a Shadarius Hopkins jumper. The two teams continued to see-saw back and forth until Newberry turned an offensive rebound into the game tying bucket with just three seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
Newberry netted the first two buckets of overtime putting the Griffins behind once again, but Fairfield was able to keep pace and work as a team to get the defensive stops they needed to win.
“They just kept fighting and would not quit,” Liferidge explained. “They wanted that game bad and I’m proud of them. I thought more than anything the game against Newberry exemplified a team-win.”
Fairfield made their free throws down the stretch and put the game out of reach, as they went on to win 90-85.
Keith Workman scored had a team high 22 points and Daniel Maple followed up with 21.
Fairfield’s contest against Columbia on Tuesday (Jan. 28) has been postponed until Feb. 5 due to a winter storm warning.
The next scheduled game for the Griffins is on Friday when they host the Shamrocks of Eau Claire (6-114, 2-3). Fairfield defeated Eau Claire 43-34 back on Jan. 14. Tip-off will follow the conclusion of the girls game, which tips at 6 p.m.