Trying to qualify for the district tournament for the first time since the 2007-08 season, Fairfield needs as many wins as it can possibly get.
Unfortunately for the Knights, they ran into a red-hot York Catholic squad and the Fighting Irish raced past them to a 70-52 victory in a YAIAA-3 boys’ basketball contest Monday night at Richard Stroup Gymnasium in Fairfield.
Fairfield (8-6, 6-6) began the night fourth in the District 3 Class 2A power rankings, but the loss dropped the Knights to fifth, with only the top four earning a berth in the postseason.
The Knights have three games remaining this week to try to get back into the top four. They host Delone Catholic tonight, play at Southern Huntington on Thursday and at Hanover on Saturday.
“We lost to Delone close (45-42) the first time we played them and beat Southern Huntington (47-41) and Hanover (46-39) the first time we played them,” Fairfield head coach Andy Winebrenner said. “So we’ve got winnable games left, but we’ve got to win them if we want to make the playoffs.”
Meanwhile, the Irish (10-5, 10-2) took one step closer to their showdown for the division title when they welcome Littlestown (12-2, 10-2) on Thursday. YC plays Biglerville, while Littlestown faces York Tech tonight. The Irish defeated the Bolts on the road, 54-44, on Jan. 11.
Early on in Monday’s game, Fairfield was able to stay with the visitors and Eric Ball’s deuce with 2:28 to go in the opening quarter tied things at 10, apiece.
But the Irish finished the frame strong and were in front, 21-14, with one stanza in the books.
YC kept its efficient offense going in the second quarter as the Irish blitzed their hosts to the tune of a 28-point frame and carried a 49-29 advantage to the locker room.
The shooting for the Irish in the first half was off the charts good. They made 16-of-24 (67 percent) from the field and all seven of their attempts from beyond the arc.
“We came out in a zone defensively and that gave them open looks, which they made,” Winebrenner said. “They’re hard to play man-to-man defense against because they’re well-coached, they move the ball well and they cut well.”
Halftime did little to slow the guests on the offensive end, as they posted 11 points in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the third quarter. A quarter that ended with York Catholic holding a 64-33 advantage.
The loss was the third straight for the Knights, who were 8-3 at one point and looking good to make districts.
“I gotta admit, 8-3 was a little bit of fool’s gold,” Winebrenner said. “Don’t get me wrong, we were happy to have that record. But we hadn’t played Littlestown yet and we still had these guys on the schedule.”
With only two seniors on the roster, (Trey Griffith and Neal Beaudette) and six juniors, Winebrenner is stressing how important it is for the team to make the playoffs.
“We want to do it for our seniors obviously, because it’s their last year,” he said. “But also for our underclassmen, as well. We have six juniors and we want them to have the experience of playing in districts before next season.”
Fairfield turned the ball over 28 times, but did shoot 21-of-41 (51 percent) from the field.
“We turned the ball over entirely too many times tonight,” Winebrenner said. “They ended up with way too many layups and we ended up with way too many empty possessions.”
Nik Norberg connected four times from deep on his way to a team-high 19 points.
For YC, Luke Forjan led the way with 22 points, while brother and classmate, John, tossed in 14.
Follow Tom Sixeas on Twitter at @TomSixeas
York Catholic 21 28 15 6 — 70
Fairfield 14 15 4 19 — 52
York Catholic (70): Brady Walker 5 2-3 13, Caden Boeckel 3 1-2 10, John Forjan 3 5-6 14, Quinn Brennan 1 0-0 3, Grasen Brady 0 2-2 2, Luke Forjan 8 6-8 22, Preston Boeckel 1 0-0 2, Ryan Oathout 0 2-4 2, Joe Mountain 1 0-0 2. Non-scorers: Sentz, Yinger, Jarecki, Phillips, Shelley. Totals: 22 18-25 70.
Fairfield (52): Nik Nordberg 6 3-4 19, Trey Griffith 4 0-0 9, Eric Ball 1 1-2 3, Will Myers 3 0-1 6, Cody Valentine 3 0-0 7, Griffin Tabler 1 0-0 2, Neal Beaudette 3 0-0 6. Non-scorers: Jake Myers, Andrew Koons. Totals: 21 4-8 52.
3-pointers: YC-C. Boeckel 3, J. Forjan 3, Walker, Brennan; F-Nordberg 4, Griffith, Valentine. JV: York Catholic 56, Fairfield 31