Late Centerville comeback stuns TrojansBig Red took first lead in final minutes
A free throw shot by Centerville’s Kolton Gonnerman with 3:58 to go in the fourth quarter did more than just give the Big Red a one-point lead.
It gave them their first lead of the entire game.
The Fairfield Trojan boys (7-7) were unable to sustain an early 11-point lead, as Centerville (7-4) slowly clawed back over the duration of the game. The Big Red comeback, combined with a pinch of bad luck in the closing seconds, caused Fairfield to lose at home 55-53 Tuesday.
The Gonnerman free throw was the result of an intentional foul called on Federico Ferretti, who grabbed Gonnerman’s foot after he stripped the Trojan junior of the ball. Ferretti was on the ground and tripped the Centerville senior so he couldn’t score a break away layup.
“I think it was a good hustle defensive play,” Centerville coach Matt Kruzich said. “It was better than giving up a layup in his position. And as it turns out we only made one of the free throws, so it actually was a pretty smart play.”
Gonnerman was a force in the fourth quarter, getting multiple steals and scoring 17 points on the night. After the technical free throw, Fairfield’s Landon Gamrath responded with a three-point play, putting the Trojans back up 49-47. Gamrath contributed 10 points total.
“I was just trying to keep us in it,” Gamrath said. “We were up the whole game and then we started to get down. I didn’t want us to lose the mental battle, because as soon as that happens it’s a problem.”
Michael Starcevich would tie the game back up for Centerville. With a minute to go, Garrett Faris completed a three-point play, which put Centerville up four. A three-point attempt by Fairfield senior Matt Carr was halfway down before backspin sent it rolling out of the cup and down into waiting Centerville rebounders. A poor foul call and an inbounds play later the game was sealed.
“I stuck with my starting five. I told them that they dug the hole and they needed to dig themselves out of it,” Kruzich said. “They did it. I think we outhustled Fairfield in the second half and we made some big free throws late in the game.”
Carr led Fairfield with 16 points. Ferretti scored 12 points and led in assists with four. Senior starters Joe Hietpas and Vince Horras contributed as well. Hietpas made important plays on defense, tallying four steals, while Horras finished with seven rebounds.
The Trojans started hot in the first quarter but couldn’t make important enough plays late, which is same formula that caused their loss Monday to Mid-Prairie.
“The guys wanted to come out and set the tone early, and they did a great job of coming out and being aggressive,” Fairfield coach Tyler Miklo said. “I think it could have been a lot bigger margin actually, but I give the guys credit for coming out strong.”
The Trojans will now look forward to their rematch against the Washington Demons Friday. Washington (4-6, 1-1 SEC) defeated Fairfield in the first contest on Dec. 13. Fairfield is 2-3 in Southeast Conference play this season.