Keenan secured Region 3-2A’s top playoff seed on Tuesday with a 45-34 win over third-ranked Fairfield Central, completing a conference sweep of the Griffins.
The 10th-ranked Raiders (12-7, 8-0) need one more win to clinch their first outright region championship since 2008.
“It was nice to clinch that No. 1 seed, but we won’t take it easy in our last two games (before the playoffs),” said Keenan coach Reggie McLain. “We want to finish up strong, finish 10-0.”
Unlike the first meeting on Jan. 11 when the Raiders shocked the then-No. 1 Griffins, 55-44, the rematch was a defensive struggle.
Keenan had 25 turnovers, but offset the mishaps with balanced scoring and seven 3-point field goals. Fairfield Central (15-4, 6-2)) created plenty of offensive chances with its defensive pressure, but shot 18 percent from the field (11-for-61).
“Our plan was to try and force them to shoot from the perimeter as much as possible,” said McLain. “It worked in the first game, and we stayed with the 2-3 zone for most of the game.
“But we went to man midway through the third period and into the fourth when they hit a few outside shots. I wanted to give them a different look to try and keep them from building momentum.”
Fairfield Central went on an 11-2 run in the third quarter to take a 24-23 lead at the 2:33 mark. The spark was two perimeter scores, one from 3-point range, by Chyna Moore.
But the Raiders countered with a 7-2 run to the end of the quarter and regain the upper hand. They dominated the last quarter.
McLain’s defensive shift was a key, but the season debut of Daisha Eddy, a member of the state runner-up 2011 team, proved even more telling. Eddy, the team’s leading scorer as a freshman and a sophomore, sat out last season and recently became eligible. She entered the game late in the third quarter and immediately hit a 3-pointer. Eddy tossed down two more 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Raiders landed a 15-8 knockout blow.
“It’s great having Daisha back,” said McLain. “She’s going to be a big help the rest of the way. She gives us a proven scorer to take some of the pressure off Keira (Robinson).”
Robinson led Keenan with 16 points, five assists, six rebounds and three steals.
The Raiders also received solid contributions by sophomore Demyra Rudder, and 6-foot-2 freshman Leon Hill.
Rudder scored all seven of her points in the second quarter. Hill had four of her six points, four rebounds and three blocks in the decisive fourth quarter. Jada Martin led the Griffins with 14 points.