Raiders get by Dragons, 55-45

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 23, 2000

RIO GRANDE – The end of the season for the Fairland Dragons was a tough 55-45 upset loss at the hands of the River Valley Raiders Tuesday night in the Division III sectional tournament.

Wednesday, February 23, 2000

RIO GRANDE – The end of the season for the Fairland Dragons was a tough 55-45 upset loss at the hands of the River Valley Raiders Tuesday night in the Division III sectional tournament.

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Despite the loss, Dragons coach Joey Thacker wasn’t despondent.

"Before the game, I told the players the key was to give a physical effort, win or lose," said Thacker. "And for the most part, we did.

"The seniors, more than anything, played hard and were active. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year and these kids accomplished so much. They won 12 games, tied for second in the OVC, and played with a lot of heart."

The Dragons finished 12-9, surpassing what most critics predicted. A cold shooting night from the perimeter kept them from advancing one more step in this overachieving season.

River Valley (3-18) swarmed Fairland’s center and leading scorer Jay Capper, limiting him to 13 points, five the second half. Fairland shot 17 of 41 from the field for 41.5 percent but just 4 of 13 the fourth quarter when the Raiders snapped a 35-35 tie.

"We got good shots and they didn’t go in," said Thacker. "We told the guards not to force the ball to Jay. We had to hit some shots on the perimeter and open things up and then go to him. But we didn’t shoot well and they did. Give River Valley credit. They’re more together than they have been all year."

Getting things together for the Raiders were Kyle Deel and Craig Payne with 14 points each and Justin Holcomb with 10, all in the second half.

Jeremy Peck had eight rebounds and Eric Nolan five.

Capper’s 13 points and six rebounds led Fairland. Aaron Swanton finished with nine points and three assists.

"Our guys gave so much early in the season, I think that they were just mentally, physically, and emotionally drained. We even backed off in practice at the end of the season, but we were just tired," said Thacker.

With the game tied 35-35 going into the fourth quarter, Holcomb hit a 3-pointers that put the Raiders up for good.

Buddy Massie’s 15-footer got Fairland within one, but Payne’s layup, a free throw by Peck, and a driving layup by Payne stretched the lead to 43-37 with 5:38 to play.

Swanton’s layup at the 4:54 mark ended the run, but Nolan’s layup got the lead to 45-39.

Capper converted a three-point play with 2:28 left and it was 45-42. Steve Conley then hit a short jumper, Nolan sank both ends of a one-and-one, and Deel and Payne each made a foul shot for a 51-42 lead with just 36 seconds left.

Josh Dunfee’s 3-pointer closed the gap to 51-45, but only 13 seconds remained and Conley made four free throws over the final 11 seconds to seal the win.

River Valley led 9-4 early but a 3-pointer by Massie closed the gap to 9-7 at the end of the first quarter.

Two free throws by Capped at the 6:10 mark of the second quarter gave Fairland its first lead at 11-9. But River Valley used a pair of 3-pointers by Deel to open up a 17-11 lead.

The Dragons trailed 19-17 with 2:22 to go in the half when Dunfee followed up a missed shot. Deel then drilled another 3-pointer with five seconds on the clock and it was 22-19 at the break.

River Valley went ahead 26-21 to begin the second half before Fairland rallied to tie the game at 28-28 on a pair of foul shots by Swanton.

The Raiders were up 35-32 when Swanton’s 3-pointer with 47 seconds on the clock tied the score and set up the decisive fourth quarter.

Fairland 7 10 18 10 – 45

River Valley 9 13 13 20 – 55

FAIRLAND (12-9): Josh Dunfee 3-11 (2-8) 0-0 8, Buddy Massie 3-8 (1-4) 0-0 7, Aaron Swanton 3-5 (1-2) 2-2 9, K. C. Jones 1-4 (0-1) 0-0 2, Jay Capper 4-10 (0-0) 5-5 13, Glen Chapman 3-3 (0-0) 0-0 6, J. W. Jones 0-0 (0-0) 0-0 0, Chris Hardy 0-0 (0-0) 0-0 0, Jeff Crespo 0-0 (0-0) 0-0 0, Darren Colburn 0-0 (0-0) 0-0 0. Totals: 17-41 (4-15) 7-7 45. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: Dunfee. Rebounds: 11-9=20 (Capper 6, Dunfee 5). Assists: 6 (Swanton 3, Dunfee 2, Massie 1). Steals: 2 (Swanton 1, Dunfee 1). Turnovers: 14.

RIVER VALLEY (3-18): Kyle Deel 5-9 (3-4) 1-2 14, Craig Payne 59 (0-2) 4-6 14, Eric Nolan 3-4 (0-0) 2-2 8, Clark Walker 0-0 (0-0) 0-0 0, Jeremy Peck 0-3 (0-0) 3-4 3, Steve Conley 1-1 (0-0) 4-4 6, Justin Holcomb 3-6 (3-4) 1-1 10, Jared Denny 0-0 (0-0) 0-0 0. Totals: 17-32 (6-10) 15-19 55. Fouls: 10. Fouled out: Holcomb. Rebounds: 8-14=22 (Peck 8, Nolan 5). Assists: 7 (Payne 2, Deel 2). Steals: 7 (Deel 2). Turnovers: 16.