Fairfield Central came to Friday’s Region 3-2A girls basketball game at Keenan with the No. 1 ranking in the classification, but the host Raiders took the early lead in the conference race with a 55-44 victory at The Cove.
Keenan improved to 7-6 overall, 3-0 in region matters while the Griffins (11-2, 2-1) suffered their first setback against a South Carolina team this season.
“We always play a tough non-region schedule and sometimes we don’t have an early season record that gets attention, but we do it because it’s all about getting ready for the region, where everything important happens,” Raiders coach Reggie McLain said.
“To this point in the season, this was the game we were focused on. We played well and showed we’re a pretty good team.”
Keenan wasted little time establishing the tone. The Raiders went 7-for-9 from the field on the way to a 17-13 lead by the end of the first quarter, and assumed command with a 17-7 run in the second quarter.
“We wanted to get off to a good start because, when we do, we usually have a smooth game,” McLain said.
Once the Raiders pushed the lead to double-digits — 29-19 at the 3:05 mark of the second quarter — Fairfield Central cut the deficit to fewer than 10 points once, and for only 16 seconds, the rest of the way.
“Being ranked so high and having a target on the back is something the girls are still learning how to handle,” said Griffins coach Cedrick Simpson, who guided the program to its first winning season in 12 years in his first year on the job last winter. “We knew Keenan was going to be a real test for us, but it’s hard to win when you shoot the ball the way we did tonight. We had some good, open looks, but couldn’t seem to make anything.”
Fairfield Central finished with a 22 percent field goal percentage (15-for68) against Keenan’s 1-3-1 zone.
“We knew they relied heavily on perimeter shooting, and we wanted to take away or at least pressure their shooters on the wings,” McLain said.
Keenan senior star Keira Robinson was the player of the game with 32 points on 11-for-20 marksmanship, four assists and three steals.
“She’s the best guard and the best leader in the state, and she showed why with a great game,” Simpson said.
“Keira means an awful lot to us, not only as a scorer but as a facilitator,” McLain said.
Jada Martin led the Griffins with 22 points.
“Hopefully, we’ll respond and be better prepared when Keenan comes to our place,” said Simpson, referring to the Jan. 29 rematch in Winnsboro.
FC: Thompson 3, Moore 9, Seibles 3, Jada Martin 22, Pearson 2, Davis 2, Jeter 1. K: Reaves 2, Isaac 4, Rudder 1, Keira Robinson 32, Jackson 7, Hill 3, Baker 6.