Warriors Bounce Griffins from State Tournament

Daniel Maple floats in a two-pointer for the Griffins Monday night at Indian Land.

The class 2A high school basketball playoffs continued this past Monday when the Griffins of Fairfield Central (15-8) went on the road to play the Indian Land Warriors (23-2). Fairfield’s season came to an end in the second round of the state playoffs with a 78-67 loss. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, but after this weekend’s snowfall it had to be moved to Monday. Indian Land is the number one seed out of Region IV-2A and ran the table with a 10-0 record in region play. Fairfield was always in position to take the lead but just couldn’t get the ball to bounce their way. The opening tip was an indicator of this fact when Daniel Maple won the tip for the Griffins but was so aggressive on his swipe he ripped it out of bounds and gave the first possession to Indian Land.

The teams traded 3-point baskets to open up the contest but after that the Warriors went on a 13-4 run to lead 16-7 halfway through the first quarter. Facing a nine-point deficit early, the Griffins’ defense responded by causing back-to-back turnovers, which junior Keith Workman converted into three straight buckets, bringing it back to a one possession game at 18-16. However, the Warriors were the benefactors of offensive rebounds and were able to score second chance points in bunches and led 24-18 at the end of the first quarter.

Indian Land started the second quarter with an 8-2 run and took their largest lead of the game up until that point at 32-20. Despite being down, the Griffins responded with an 8-0 run of their own and pulled to within four halfway through the second quarter. With under a minute remaining in the first half Fairfield knocked down a 3-pointer to make the score 41-38, but back-to-back free throws in the final seconds gave the Warriors a 43-38 lead at the half.

Fairfield started the second half with back-to-back shots from downtown to take their first lead of the game at 44-43, but the lead would be short lived as the Warriors went on a 15-2 run and led 58-46 with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Basketball is a game of runs and Griffins head coach Devin Liferidge knows his team missed an opportunity early in the second half.

“We responded in the second half with our first lead,” Liferidge said. “I felt like at that point we should have extended our lead, but instead we relaxed and allowed them to go back on top.”

Fairfield would never again regain the lead and the closest they would get in the fourth quarter was within six. After the game Indian Land head coach Nate Smith referred to his home crowd as the “sixth man” and gave them a lot of the credit for his team’s win.

“Our fans carried us through tonight,” Smith said.

The free throw line was not kind to the Griffins late in the game as they self-destructed, making just four of 13 late in the game. Liferidge knows that those kind of mistakes were the difference in the ball game.

“This time of year, if you’re missing that many free throws down the stretch you’re not going to win,” Liferidge said.

Workman led all scorers with 32 points while also contributing eight rebounds and four blocks. Four different Indian Land players scored in double digits, led by their freshman duo Darrell Rogers and Rakyem Fielder with 26 and 21 respectively. The Warriors will advance to the quarterfinals to play the number one seeded Keenan (21-5), out of Region III-2A on Thursday (Feb. 21).

Even though the Griffins season is over there is still a lot to look forward to with 10 juniors set to return to next year’s squad. Liferidge believes his team will be even better in the 2013-2014 season.

“We’ve got everybody coming back,” Liferidge stated. “And if we don’t like this feeling we need to improve this summer and come back ready to play next season.”