FAIRFIELD — A pair of free throws have never been so important.
Demoriaye Hart-Spikes sealed the deal by making two free throws with 2.8 seconds left to give the third-seeded Fairfield High boys basketball team a 61-58 decision over No. 11 Central Valley in the quarterfinals of the Sac Joaquin Division III playoffs at Ronald D. Thompson Gymnasium, Friday.
That moves Fairfield into the semifinals where they’ll have a rematch with Solano County Athletic Conference and crosstown rival Vanden, the No. 2 seed, at Cosumnes River College of Sacramento, Tuesday. The Vikings won the first two meetings.
The largest lead in Friday’s game for Fairfield (24-5) was 42-28 with 3 minutes, 48 seconds left in the third quarter after an Anthony Bryant layup.
From that point, the Hawks (22-7) clawed their way back and were never out of the game until the final buzzer.
On the ensuing possession for Central Valley, Kendall Johnson went for a layup to try and grab some momentum but the shot was blocked by Fairfield’s Javon Adams, energizing the Falcons faithful.
But as Fairfield took the ball to try and make an easy bucket, the Hawks’ Johnson raced downcourt and got a block of his own – igniting the Central Valley crowd, which made its presence known for most of the night.
After an easy layup from Fairfield’s Adams with 3:07 left in the third quarter, Central Valley closed out the period by going on a 14-4 run, shrinking the Falcons’ lead to 48-42 going into the fourth quarter.
“We have tough kids,” Fairfield coach Eddie Wilson said. “There were several opportunities to put (Central Valley) away completely, but they were pretty resilient.”
After a few baskets and two 3-pointers from the Hawks, they found themselves down just 59-58 with 1:57 left in the game.
Fairfield called a timeout to try and hold off the comeback. On its ensuing possession, Central Valley sent the Falcons’ Maurice Trotter to the line, but he missed the shot and, after getting the rebound, the visitors called their final timeout with 17 seconds left.
After Central Valley pushed up the floor, Jaron Dickson attempted a off-balance 3-pointer and missed as Hart-Spikes grabbed the rebound and sealed the game.
The Falcons started the contest on an 11-2 run with 3:33 left but the Hawks made a 9-0 run of their own and the first quarter ended with an 11-11 tie.
Adams scored six points in the second quarter for Fairfield, which outscored Central Valley 18-12 in the second quarter to take a 29-23 advantage into halftime.
Ryan Donnelly, Central Valley’s 6-foot-6 senior forward, had 10 of his 19 points in the first half.
The Falcons outrebounded the visitors 35-31, despite a clear height disadvantage.
“We tried to make it a perimeter game,” Wilson said about the height difference. “We applied enough pressure that we were able to take away the looks for their bigs. Their best offense was to miss a shot and try to make another off of the offensive board.
“I am really happy for the kids and proud of them. I told them if we get 20 wins and a chance to play at a neutral site, it has been a good year. Hopefully we have a couple more victories in us.”
Hart-Spikes led the Falcons with 16 points, while Adams had 13.