Griffins Come up Short in Region Showdown

 

Chanti Jones (15) goes up hard underneath at Keenan. (Photo/DeAnna Robinson)

COLUMBIA – In a physical, back-and-forth shootout for Region III dominance, the Fairfield Central Griffins saw a close match slip away in the final quarter as they fell 66-55 to the Keenan High School Raiders.

While the Griffins trailed only 36-31 at the half, nine unanswered points by Keenan’s Tariq Simmons rattled the Griffins’ momentum and gave Keenan a 49-37 lead with 3:44 remaining in the third. A 3-pointer by Keith Workman cut the deficit back to 51-45 with 2:34 to go in the period, and the Griffins went into the final frame still trailing by six, 51-45.

But in the fourth quarter, the air went out of the Griffin offense. Inside shots rattled out of the rim or banked off the glass and into the Raiders’ hands. But Keenan wasn’t faring much better in the closing minutes, going scoreless for more than three full minutes down the stretch. A layup by Workman cut the Keenan lead to 58-53 with 2:59 to play, but the Raiders snapped out of their funk 33 seconds later when Kendrick Gathers drained a 3-ball for the 61-53 lead.

“We hit the glass hard,” Griffin head coach Devin Liferidge said. “I liked the looks we got, but the shots just didn’t fall.”

Workman led all shooters with 23 points, but found only marginal help from his typically strong supporting cast. Although the Griffin bench did combine for 17 points on the night, the second wave leader, Daniel Maple, was held to just 10 points by the Raider defense.

The Griffins held a 29-26 lead with just under three minutes to play in the first half, but three consecutive turnovers by the Griffins ignited an 8-0 Keenan run in the closing seconds. The Griffins turned the ball over a total of 16 times Friday night – a dozen times in the first half. Keenan, meanwhile, committed only three first-half turnovers and 10 on the night.

“We had our opportunities,” Liferidge said. “I really thought we had them down late in the first half, but they went on a run and I think that run was huge.”

The loss is the first region setback for the Griffins, putting them at 2-1 in region play and putting Keenan in the driver’s seat. The Griffins thumped Pelion Tuesday 79-45 behind Maple’s 19 points. They get another shot at Keenan Feb. 4.

“I feel like if we play this same type of game at home, we can win,” Liferidge said.

 

FC – 11-20-16-8 – 55

K – 12-24-17-13 – 66

FC – Keith Workman-23, Daniel Maple-10, Brandon Adams-9, Jalyn Davis-4, Shadarius Hopkins-3, Dequan Weldon-2, Chanti Jones-2, Javahnne Neal-2.

K – Tariq Simmons-22, Kendrick Gathers-11, J. Davis-8, Chris Bernard-8, Marcus Stroman-6, Antwan Holmes-6, Sam Harmon-3, L. Johnson-2.