Dragons’ strong effort not enough in loss
ATHENS — If the Fairland Dragons had a checklist to what it would take to win Friday’s Division II district semifinal game, everything would have been marked.
Except the box marked “win.”
Shots that didn’t fall, balls that bounced the wrong way, and turnovers at the wrong time erased a strong effort as the Dragons dropped a 65-61 heartbreaker to the Vinton County Vikings.
“It was disappointing to have a team that played this well and this hard. They did everything we asked of them,” said Fairland coach Nathan Speed.
“Our press was working. We were more physical. We made foul shots. We limited turnovers. We did lots of stuff right and you look for reasons why you get beat and you can’t find them.”
The Dragons (17-7) were 13-of-13 from the foul line. They shot 40 percent from the field. They held a 39-38 rebound edge.
But 22 turnovers and early foul trouble on leading scorer Evan Maddox kept the Dragons from creating any distance between themselves and the Vikings.
Late in the game there were layups that went in-and-out and a turnover with 1:05 left proved critical.
Fairland led 47-46 heading into the fourth quarter and the lead changed hands four times. Fairland took its final lead on two foul shots by Nathan Campbell with 2:08 left and it was 58-57.
But Jordan Albright had a putback and was fouled with 1:21 to go. He made the free throw and the Vikings led 60-58. The Dragons then turned the ball over and Albright was fouled with 44 seconds left.
Albright made both free throws and it was 62-58. The Dragons missed a 3-point attempt and L.B. Remy got the rebound and was fouled. He hit one free throw for a 63-58 lead and just 31 seconds to play.
Jordan Kidd’s foul shot put Vinton County’s lead at 64-58 and Maddox drained a trifecta to get the Dragons within 64-61 with two seconds left.
Fairland fouled on the inbounds play and Alex Owings hit the second of two shots to seal the win.
“It’s frustrating. We were getting to the basket, attacking and the shots just aren’t falling,” said Speed.
“They played hard. I was proud of them. It was disappointing to have a team that played this well and this hard (and lose).”
Maddox hit a 3-pointer early, but he picked up two quick fouls and sat out most of the first quarter. When Maddox returned he was called for a charging foul less than two minutes into the second quarter and was back on the sidelines for the rest of the half.
But Fairland’s bench rose to the occasion along with Luke Phillips who scored six points in the first half and Chance Short who scored five points in the first quarter including a 3-pointer that put the Dragons up 15-10.
The Vikings tied the game but Diote Braye’s layup gave Fairland a 17-15 lead at the end of the quarter.
“The guys off the bench played fantastic. Luke’s been good for us all year,” said Speed.
Kyle Rained buried a 3-pointer to give Fairland a 28-20 lead and a layup by Phillips made it 30-21 with 1:33 to go in the half.
But Vinton County closed the half with a 7-0 run and it was 30-28 at the break.
“When they made that run (at the end of the half) we still felt pretty good, though,” said Speed.
The Dragons built five-point leads twice in the third quarter before the Vikings came back to take a 46-45 lead. Two foul shots by Maddox just before the end of the quarter gave Fairland a 47-46 lead.
Maddox finished with 22 points and seven rebounds. Raines had 10 points and eight rebounds and Phillips scored 10 points.
Kidd and Albright scored 13 points each for the Vikings (19-4). Alex Owings added 11 points.
Vinton County plays Warren on Thursday in the district finals. Warren rallied to beat Unioto 50-39 in the first game.
Vinton Co. 15 13 18 19 = 65
Fairland 17 13 17 14 = 61
VINTON COUNTY (19-4): Alex Owings 3-8 5-5-8 11, Matt Smallwood 1-5 3- 5, Jordan Kidd 4-16 5-6 13, Bryce Owings 4-9 0-0 8, L.B. Remy 3-10 2-4 9, Jordan Albright 4-7 4-6 13, Tyler Walton 2-5 0-1 4, Chase Wood 0-1 0-0 0, Per Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Sean Caudill 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 22-62 19-29 65. 3-point goals: 2-12 (A. Owings 0-1, Kidd 0-6, Remy 1-4, Albright 1-1). Rebounds: 16 offense, 22 defense = 38 (Remy 7, Kidd 7, Albright 6). Team rebounds: 4. Assists: 7 (A. Owings 4). Steals: 14 (Kidd 4, Remy 4, B. Owings 3). Turnovers: 11. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: None.
FAIRLAND (17-7): Cody Midkiff 1-7 0-0 2, Luke Phillips 4-8 2-2 10, Nathan Campbell 0-3 4-4 4, Kyle Raines 4-9 0-0 10, Evan Maddox 7-16 5-5 22, Chance Short 2-4 0-0 5, Dionte Braye 1-1 2-2 4, Thayer Flynn 2-3 0-0 4, Tyler Campbell 0-0 0-0 0, Jacob Warner 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-52 13-13 61. 3-point goals: 6-21 (Midkiff 0-4, Phillips 0-1, Raines 2-5, Maddox 3-8, Short 1-4). Rebounds: 9 offense, 30 defense = 39 (Raines 8, Maddox 7, Short 5). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 7 (N. Campbell 3). Steals: 5 (Raines 2). Turnovers: 22. Fouls: 22. Fouled out: None.