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Dragons capture another St. Joe Invitational title

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The “eyes” have it.

The outcome of the Huntington St. Joe Invitational small school division may have been in doubt to everyone else, but not Fairland Dragon’s head coach John McClung.

He knew who would win even before the overtime period began.

McClung could sense his team would play well and they did as the Dragons beat the Huntington St. Joe Fighting Irish 75-65 Friday to win their third SJI title in four years.

“You could see it in their eyes. They came to the bench (at the end of regulation) and you could see that they were going to do it,” said McClung.

Nathan Hedrick scored 14 points in the first half as the Irish took a 29-19 halftime lead.

Fairland (6-5) fell behind by 11 points halfway through the third quarter when they began their comeback.

Evan Salyers scored 8 points as the Dragons cut the deficit to 46-39 at the end of the third quarter.

Matt Bloomfield hit a basket and Jonathan Holbrook nailed a triple as the Dragons got within 4 points in the fourth quarter.

“Holbrook hit a big shot to set things up for us,” said McClung.

Chad Fisher made two foul shots with 45 seconds left to make it a 2-point game. Aaron Williams hit two foul shots for the Irish but Salyers scored on a put-back and it was 58-56 with 11 seconds left.

Fisher stole the inbounds’ pass and passed to Baise who hit the tying shot with two seconds left and force the overtime.

Salyers scored 6 points and Baise 4 in overtime as the Dragons forced four turnovers and outscored St. Joe 17-7 to get the win.

“We just kept battling all night,” said McClung. “It was an exciting game. Baise gave us an outstanding spark in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“I think our conditioning since the Chesapeake game is paying off, and we did a better job taking care of the ball in the second half and we guarded better from the third quarter on.”

Salyers had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Dragons. Fisher got 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

Also in double figures for Fairland were Matt Bloomfield with 14 points and Baise and Holbrook with 12 each.

Nate Hedrick had a game-high 29 points and 18 rebounds for the Irish (9-2).

Fisher was the tournament Most Valuable Player and was joined on the all-tournament team by Baise and Salyers from Fairland, Josh Pierson, Williams and Hedrick from St. Joseph and Luke Bowling from Cabell Midland’s junior varsity.

Fairland 10 9 20 19 17 = 75

St. Joseph 19 10 17 12 7 = 65

FAIRLAND (6-5): Jon Baise 5-6 0-6 2-2 12, Matt Bloomfield 5-8 0-1 4-8 14, Chad Fisher 5-11 0-5 5-6 15, Jonathan Holbrook 3-8 2-4 0-0 12, Evan Salyers 7-9 0-0 6-6 20, Matt Campbell 1-2 0-0 0-0 2, Eric Riley 0-0 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 28-60 17-22 75. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: None. 3-point goals: 2-16. Rebounds: 32 (Salyers 12, Bloomfield 7, Fisher 5). Assists: 9 (Fisher 4). Turnovers: 18.

HUNTINGTON ST. JOSEPH (9-2): Kyle Sheffield 2-5 0-1 0-0 4, Aaron Williams 3-11 0-1 5-6 11, Parker Smith 2-5 0-0 1-4 5, Josh Pierson 1-2 1-5 3-4 8, Nate Hedrick 14-24 0-0 1-2 29, Lance West 4-10 0-0 0-0 8, Charles Lockhart 0-2 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 27-66 10-16 6. Fouls: 20. Fouled out: Hedrick. 3-point goals: 1-7. Rebounds: 43 (Hedrick 18, Smith 9, West 9). Turnovers: 18.