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Waverly tops Dragons in district final, 70-59

Fairland Dragons’ Blaine Fuller (23) muscles his way up for two points against the Waverly defense. (The Ironton Tribune / Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

 

ATHENS — Jake Kretzer kept getting to the basket and as a result the Fairland Dragons didn’t get what they expected.

The 6-foot-6 Kretzer — headed for the University of Akron — changed gears by limiting his outside game in favor of driving the lane. The style changed helped him scored 37 points and grab 10 rebounds to lead the Waverly Tigers past the Fairland Dragons 70-59 on Friday in the Division II district finals.

“I think what (Kretzer) did a good job of tonight is getting to the basket,” said Fairland coach Nathan Speed.

“One thing that we have seen through film and things is that he’ll do it in transition but not in the half-court as much. He likes to stay out and shoot. Tonight he attacked and did a good job.”

Despite Kretzer style change, the Dragons stayed in contention until the final minute of the game when the Tigers converted free throws to pull away.

Fairland (17-6) trailed 60-46 with 4:50 to play after a free throw by Waverly’s Taylor Ward.

But Eric Riley drained a 3-pointer, Evan Maddox hit a short jumper, Blaine Fuller’s made a 5-footer in the lane and Riley converted two free throws with 3:09 left to cut the deficit to 60-55.

Maddox then reached around from behind and knocked the ball away from Philip Hart and took off for an uncontested layup only to be whistled for his fifth foul.

Hart hit the two free throws with 2:44 left and it was 62-55.

“It was big. We had some momentum going. Maybe we could have had a layup on the other end with the steal. But those (officials) have to make tough calls. That didn’t beat us,” said Speed.

Fuller’s steal and layup made it a five-point game again but Kretzer sank four straight free throws and Hart’s layup with 50 seconds left opened up a 68-57 lead.

The Dragons made 8 of 13 shots in the first quarter including three 3-pointers — two by Maddox. Nathan Campbell made a layup and the Dragons were up 16-6 with 3:16 on the first quarter clock.

But Waverly (18-5) went on a 23-8 run to lead 29-24 with 2:28 left in the half.

“We came out and shot so well, when we stopped hitting shots we weren’t running our offense,” said Speed.

“We really wanted to go to Evan (Salyers) early. Once we had to drop back in our half-court offense we weren’t scoring and getting guys open and reversing the ball.”

Salyers scored eight of his 16 points in the first quarter. He also had eight rebounds.

Maddox finished with 18 points and seven rebounds while Fuller had 15 points and seven boards.

Hart added 12 points for Waverly.

The loss prevented the Dragons from making their first trip to the regionals since 2007 when they were in Division III.

“Jumping up to D-II we were kind of — at the beginning of the year — questioning how it would go. After being around these guys all year, we were confident and knew what we were capable of doing,” said Speed.

“I’m proud of these guys. They don’t quit. There never was a game I didn’t feel like we could win. It all goes back to our seniors.”

Waverly will play New Philadelphia at 8 p.m. on Tuesday in the regional semifinals at Ohio University. The first game matches Chillicothe against St. Clairsville at 6:15.

Waverly 15 20 14 21 = 70

Fairland 19 9 14 17 = 59

WAVERLY (18-5): Taylor Ward 2 0 3-5 7, Devin Kelly 2 0 0-2 4, Jean Paul White 0 0 0-0 0, Zach Corcoran 1 0 2-4 4, Jake Kretzer 10 2 11-12 37, Philip Hart 2 2 2-2 12, Brock Davis 3 0 0-0 6. Totals: 24-53 18-25 70. 3-point goals: 4-12. Rebounds: 15-18=33 (Kretzer 10, Ward 7). Team rebounds: 1. Assists: 9 (Ward 5, Kretzer 3). Steals: 7 (Kretzer 3, Kelley 3). Turnovers: 13. Blocked shots: 3 (Kretzer 2, Hart 1). Fouls: 15. Fouled out: None.

FAIRLAND (17-6): Eric Riley 0 1 2-2 5, Evan Maddox 4 3 1-4 18, Blaine Fuller 6 0 3-5 15, Nathan Campbell 1 0 0-0 2, Evan Salyers 8 0 0-1 16, Cody Midkiff 0 1 0-0 3, Alec Warner 0 0 0-0 0, Josh Goodman 0 0 0-0 0, Ryan Wooten 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-59 6-12 59. 3-point goals: 5-17. Rebounds: 20-16=36 (Salyers 8, Fuller 7, Maddox 7). Team rebounds: 8. Assists: 4. Steals: 8 (Fuller 3, Midkiff 2). Turnovers: 16. Blocked shots: 2 (Salyers 1, Fuller 1). Fouls: 19. Fouled out: Maddox (4th 2:44), Riley (4th 1:06).