FAIRFIELD — The visiting team came to play in the second half, but by then it was too late.
The third-seeded Fairfield High boys basketball team punched its ticket to the quarterfinals Sac Joaquin Section Division III playoffs as it outlasted No. 14 Inderkum of Sacramento 61-48, despite being outscored 35-34 in the second half at Ronald D. Thompson Gymnasium, Wednesday.
The Falcons (23-5) host No. 11 Central Valley of Ceres, a 60-43 winner over Sierra of Manteca, Friday.
With 18 seconds left in the quarter, the Falcons’ Sean Gray inbounded the ball off an Inderkum player’s back and scored an easy basket, making it a 19-7 lead after one quartery. Fairfield was all over the boards in the first quarter, outrebounding the Tigers 15-5.
“The way we executed defensively was the best it’s been all year,” Falcons coach Eddie Wilson said. “We contested every shot and were in the positions we wanted to be in. I thought our focus was really good.”
The defensive pressure for Fairfield kept up in the second quarter as it only allowed Inderkum to score six points. The Tigers first basket didn’t come until there was 1:58 left on the clock, nearly seven minutes between buckets.
The Falcons went into halftime with a 27-13 advantage and some energy as Javon Adams blocked the ball on the backboard on what looked to be an easy Inderkum layup with seconds left in the half.
The Tigers found energy in the second half and made it a game and refusing to go quietly.
The spark for Inderkum, which cut the deficit to 37-29 with 1:20 left in the quarter, was ignited by Ld Dhaliwal as he opened and closed the period with 3-pointers.
Demoriaye Hart-Spikes ended the third quarter with two easy baskets under the bucket, making it 41-29 with one quarter left to play.
Inderkum started the fourth quarter with a spark as Davion Davis completed a three-point play, making the score 41-32 with 7:30 to go.
The Falcons slowed the momentum shift as Anthony Bryant hit a pull-up jumper on the ensuing possession.
The Tigers made it a 48-38 game after Christopher Garmon made a layup, but Fairfield came right back as Gray hit a corner 3-pointer with 3:24 left.
Garmon had nine points in the last three minutes of the game for Inderkum, ending with 11. The Falcons’ Gray also had nine points – all in the fourth quarter.
Inderkum’s last push came on a three-point play from Garmon, but the visitors ended up sending Fairfield to the line, sealing the win for the home team.
Hart-Spikes led the Falcons with 15 points, while Unree Johnson had 10.
Fairfield outrebounded the Tigers 39-24 in the game.
“Everything was tough for (Inderkum),” Wilson said. “We made things tough and kept them out of rhythm. I thought we competed well and were really intelligent. Hopefully we can take that momentum into Friday night and continue to play.”