FAIRFIELD — There’s nothing like knocking off a defending state champion to entertain your home fans.
DeMoriaye Hart-Spikes drove his way to 21 points and John Jones nailed six 3-pointers while scoring 20 as the Fairfield High boys basketball team topped Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove 71-57 at Ronald D. Thompson Gymnasium, Tuesday.
The Eagles, playing their first official game of the season, won the CIF State Division I title last March.
“I don’t want to sound cliché, but it’s just one game,” Falcons coach Eddie Wilson said. “They’re not the same team they put on the court last year. I told my guys I try to schedule proud programs that are consistently good because their (winning) culture will make you better. It’s a big win in the sense it’s a win.”
In the early going, the Falcons (3-2) were spectators as 6-foot-9 Marquese Chriss dunked off an inbounds pass and moments later on a baseline drive.
“I thought we were watching (Chriss) a bit,” Wilson said. “We talked about that in the early timeout. He’s human like everybody else. We had to compete against him.”
Chriss led the Eagles with 24 points, but had only four baskets after the first quarter.
Things could’ve gotten out of hand when Pleasant Grove built 6-point leads at 15-9 in the first quarter and 28-22 in the second, but Fairfield righted the ship – and then some.
The Falcons closed the second quarter on a 14-2 run, taking the lead for good at 33-30 lead on a Maurice Trotter trey with 1 minute, 52 seconds to go in the half and adding a Hart-Spikes 3-pointer to make it 36-30 at the break.
Fairfield opened the second half with a bomb from the right corner by Jones and took its first double-digit lead at 42-31 with a three-point play by Hart-Spikes. The senior guard later drove the lane to make it a 10-point spread at 52-42 heading into the final period.
The Falcons appeared in trouble early in the fourth quarter when the Eagles scored seven straight points to cut the lead to 60-54.
Unfazed, Fairfield kept attacking and playing smothering defense, outscoring the visitors 11-3 the rest of the way to close out the victory and draw a standing ovation from the Falcons faithful.
Despite having numerous shots blocked by Chriss and 6-6 Thomas Fitzgerald, Fairfield shot a decent 48.4 percent (30 of 62) on the night, while holding the Eagles to 37.5 (18 of 48).
Jones hit two 3-pointers in the second quarter when the Falcons began holding their own and two more in the third when they took control.
“It felt good, my shot was on,” Jones said. “It was a great team win against a great team.”
“We shot the ball pretty well,” Wilson said. “John Jones made a couple shots. They zoned us early so we stretched it a little bit. They had to guard us. We have some versatile players that attack and pass the ball pretty well.”
Hart-Spikes was limited to one 3-pointer in each of the first two quarters before exploding for 10 points in the third.
“I thought it was a good win,” Hart-Spikes said. “It brings momentum into the season. They’re a good team that won state last year.”
So did Fairfield’s next opponent, College Park of Pleasant Hill, the defending CIF State Division II champ, which takes on the Falcons in the Antelope Tournament on Thursday at 5 p.m.
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.