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Dragons win over North Adams

ATHENS — The key word for the Fairland Dragons was “guard.”

Coach Chad Belville was worried about how his guards matched up against the taller North Adams’ guards.

As it turned out, the Fairland guards did a solid job guarding the Green Devils’ guards and the result was a 66-50 win by the Dragons in the Division III district semifinals Sunday at Ohio University Convocation Center.

Fairland’s Cole Hatfield, Matt Bloomfield and Chad Fisher limited Kraig Unger to 14 points, nearly five below his average,

“We were worried about their size against our guards. We knew they had a size advantage,” said Belville.

“Our number one goal was to locate (Unger) on the floor and make him work for every basket he gets. Defensively, by far, that was our best game of the season.”

The Green Devils (19-4) had trouble guarding the Dragons inside tandem of Michael Lamb and Dustin Bumgardner.

Lamb scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while Bumgardner made 8-of-9 shots for 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

The duo did most of their damage in the second half when the Dragons blew the game open. Leading 23-21 at the half, Bumgardner scored eight points and Lamb seven in the third quarter as Fairland outscored the Devils 21-9.

Bumgardner had 14 of his points in the second half and Lamb 13.

“We did a nice job getting the ball to Dustin and Dustin did a nice job moving at the back of their press. We were not aggressive attack the basket in the first half,” said Belville.

North Adams led 10-5 late in the first quarter, but a 3-pointer by Chris Ward ignited an 8-0 run to close the quarter capped by Zach Jordan’s steal and layup to put Fairland up 13-10.

The Dragons led throughout the second quarter including 19-13 on a layup by Lamb. A 15-footer by Unger got North Adams within 23-21 with 1:07 on the clock.

The Dragons were up 37-30 when Lamb hit a triple and a layup and Hatfield turned a steal into a layup to open up a 44-30 lead after three quarters.

A steal and layup by Stephen Sparks cut Fairland’s lead to 52-41 with 4:04 to play, but the Green Devils could get no closer as the Dragons led by as many as 18 points.

Despite North Adams’ size advantage, Fairland won the rebounding battle 39-31.

“We told our guys we had to rebound better than we have all year,” said Belville.

Fairland (18-5) is hoping the third time is the charm. The Dragons are making their third straight district championship appearance as they play Ironton at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Convocation Center.