FAIRFIELD — Some clutch shooting and a gutsy attack helped the Fairfield High boys basketball team stay perfect in its all-time series with crosstown rival Rodriguez Tuesday night and the Falcons came away with a 73-67 victory at Ronald D. Thompson Gymnasium.
Despite being outscored 24-22 in the fourth quarter and 42-36 in the second half, Fairfield found a way, taking advantage of 21 second-half fouls by the Mustangs, and running its winning streak to 14 straight in the series.
That’s also Rodriguez’s worst record against any opponent in its history.
After the Falcons led 37-25 at the half, they suffered through a nearly three-minute scoring drought in the third quarter, allowing the Mustangs to chip away at the deficit. Rodrigues shot 8 for 17 from the floor over the 8-minute stretch.
Fairfield bounced back, scoring 10 points over the final three minutes of the third to lead 51-43 heading into the fourth.
Rodriguez continued to hammer away at the Fairfield lead, closing to within 58-52 on a Derrick Harris 3-pointer and finally getting the lead down to one on a Keanu Williams 3-point play that made it 60-59 with 3 minutes, 27 seconds to play.
“Rod is real scrappy and because of the rivalry we knew that they weren’t going to go away,” said Fairfield coach Tony Bryant. “So we just kept fighting and kept fighting and we was able to hold them off.”
With the Mustangs in foul trouble, the Falcons managed to cling to the lead as point guard DeMoriaye Hart-Spikes – playing in his first game of the season – sank 11 of 18 free throws in the fourth and four of those in the final minute.
Not to be outdone by his teammate, Fairfield’s Anthony Bryant poured in eight of his 15 points in the final three minutes.
Bryant snared the rebound after Hart-Spikes missed a pair of free throws and sank a baseline drive with 2:23 to play making it a 63-59 game.
Rodriguez’s Ronald Glover nailed a layup to get it to 63-61 at the 1:50 mark, but that was as close as it got.
Fairfield ran off eight straight points to extend the lead to 10 before a pair of Rodriguez 3s in the last 10 seconds narrowed the final gap.
“We’re getting better. We’re a work in progress. We’re trying to get healthy,” the senior Bryant said. “It’s the first day that DeMoriaye played. Obviously he adds a different dimension to our team and his ability to get to the rim really, really helps us.”
Hart-Spikes finished with a game-high 26 points.
Anthony Bryant added 15
Javon Adams pulled down 17 rebounds, helping Fairfield tremendously in the second-chance shot arena.
He also scored 15 points.
“That’s Javon’s game and when Javon is active in hitting the boards, he’s a pretty good basketball player,” Bryant said.
Mustangs coach Nate Rankin wasn’t pleased with the way his team started, giving up the ball on a handful of turnovers in the first quarter and trailing 24-14 after one.
“We had to make our adjustments after that,” Rankin said. “I really wasn’t happy with our defense coming out. We have to do a lot better. A lot of fouls. It was (28 to 14). That’s something that we can’t do.”
Johnny Shelton led Rodriguez with 22 points, including four 3-pointers, while Keanu Williams and Glover had 10 each.
“We have some work to do,” Rankin continued. “Overall it was a good, emotional game. We’ve just got to do a little bit better on our rebounds and our blocks out. Basic fundamental stuff.”
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.