WINNSBORO — The Fairfield Central boys basketball team is ranked ranked sixth in class AA by the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association pre-season poll.
Newberry claimed the top spot and Fairfield’s fellow region III-AA team, Keenan earned enough votes for the number two position in the top-10 poll.
Senior forward Keith Workman was voted as one of the top-five elite players in class AA. University of South Carolina commit and Keenan guard, Marcus Stroman was also named to the list.
According to Fairfield Central’s third-year head coach Devin Liferidge, Workman is a player that has size and talent, which is hard to come by at the high school level.
“From anywhere on the floor he (Workman) is a threat to put the ball in the basket,” Liferidge noted. “Having that type of player really makes us a threat. Keith (Workman) shoots very well and is probably the most coach-able player I’ve ever had. He works extremely hard and has a unique combination as far as playing down low or on the perimeter.”
Workman is player that can beat a defender with his back to the basket or on the perimeter and he will create a lot of mismatches when Fairfield Central has the ball on the offensive end.
“We will post him (Workman) up some or let him hit the outside shot,” Liferidge explained. “Because he can post up with his back to the basket or square up and use a quick jab step to get to the basket, which makes him a player that creates a lot of mismatches for us. If the opponent goes small with him he’ll take the defender down on the block and if the opponent goes big on him then he’ll pull the defender on the outside. He is able to read those mismatches without much coaching.”
The rest of the Griffins roster is still up in the air because of the football team’s run to a state title, but Liferidge expects anywhere from five to seven football players to make the regular season roster as well.
During the off-season, Liferidge said he and his staff did more one-on-one skill development. Generally it take takes three years to put in a system and now in Liferidge’s third year, he feels his players have made strides over the summer and are now more comfortable in what he and his staff expect from them on both ends of the floor.
“We really felt like if we could get a core group of guys to get better on an individual level then that would help us as a whole,” he noted. “I think it has taken the thinking out of it for the players and any time you can do that, your players will be more effective by just reacting. Hopefully those things will pay dividends collectively throughout the season.”
Defensively, Liferidge believes his team has gotten better and deeper every year during his tenure. With that added depth, he hopes to extend pressure from baseline to baseline, mix in a man-to-man press and a zone trap.
“That is when we’re playing at our best and would like to do it even more this year,” Liferidge said. “We hope that pressure will get us some easy baskets and that will play to our strength.”
Offensively, the Griffins will place fast and look to spread the floor with their spacing. Fairfield will try and let their defense lead the offense, but even on made baskets they will play fast and push the tempo as much as possible.
“We don’t want to confuse our kids with too much strategy so we just want to get out and run,” Liferidge said. “We’ve got guys that can extend the defense and shoot the ball pretty well.”
Non-region games that will serve as measuring stick for the Griffins include number one ranked Newberry, Lexington and Chester.
“We’ve got them (Newberry) early which kind of scares me,” Liferidge stated. “We’ve got a tough non-region schedule but we’re going to have to fight our way through it. “
On Dec. 19, the Griffins will compete in a Christmas tournament at Coral Springs, Fla. Three years ago, Liferidge promised his then seniors that would go to an out of state tournament and this one seemed to fit.
“It is going to be exciting to play out of state,” Liferidge noted. “It all fell together around spring of last year and we’re looking forward to it. It should be good exposure for our club.”
In region play, Liferidge knows that Keenan is the team to beat.
“One of our goals is to be region champs,” he said. “And that road is going to run through Keenan. Top to bottom this is a pretty good basketball region so we will have to be prepared every single night.”
2012 Season Review
Fairfield Central finished with an overall record of 15-10 including 8-2 in region. They finished in second place in the region behind Keenan, who lost in the state semi-finals to Newberry.
Both of Fairfield’s region losses came to Keenan by an average of 13 points. After earning a number-two seed, Fairfield Central’s playoff run ended in the second round at Indian Land by a score of 78-67.
The Griffins open up their home schedule tonight against Great Falls. Tip-off is scheduled to follow the conclusion of the girls’ game, which starts at 6 p.m.