Lady Dragons win 3rd straight district
WAVERLY — First there was Goliath. Then there was the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. Next came Paul Bunyon.
Well, there’s a new “giant” to deal with.
Fairland Lady Dragons’ senior center Terra Stapleton is 6-foot-4 and she came up just as big in her performance during Saturday’s Division III district championship game.
Stapleton had 29 points and 10 rebounds as the Michigan signee dominated and intimidated in the Lady Dragons 62-37 win over the Albany Alexander Lady Spartans.
Despite her performance, Stapleton shrugged off any individual accomplishments.
“It’s all about the team. No matter how big I am, I can’t do it by myself. I can’t do anything without my team,” said Stapleton.
Stapleton got help from senior Chandler Fulks who had 12 points including two key 3-pointers in the first quarter. Kelsey Riley added six points and five assists. And Taylor Perry had five steals.
Fairland coach John Buchanan praised his seniors for getting the team off to a strong start as Fairland took an 18-9 first quarter lead.
“Our offense wasn’t real great the first half. (The Spartans) were really good with their pressure defense. Terra has a great first quarter. Chandler made some shots and made some plays to kind of get us going,” said Buchanan.
“Our seniors stepped up, but they should. They’ve been here and this is their third straight opportunity to play for a district title. They know what it’s like.”
The district title was the third in a row for Fairland. The Lady Dragons will now play Greenfield McClain at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the regional semifinals at Logan High School. The finals are at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“We wanted to make school history. No Fairland team has ever gone to three straight regionals,” said Stapleton.
Stapleton dominated the first quarter as she scored Fairland’s first 10 points and staked them to a 10-3 lead.
Fulks hit a pair of 3-pointers for a 16-7 lead and Stapleton’s layup with one minute left in the quarter had the Lady Dragons up 18-9.
Stapleton picked up her second foul in the second quarter and Alexander tried to take advantage of the situation but couldn’t.
The Lady Spartans got within 22-14 on a 3-point play by Leah Richardson and she added a another layup and it was 22-16 with 43 seconds to go in the half.
Riley drove the baseline on the next series for Fairland and put the lead at 24-16 going into the locker rooms.
A layup by Caitlin Stone and a follow up shot by Stapleton stretched the lead to 30-18 with 6:31 left in the third quarter.
The Lady Dragons forced nine turnovers in the quarter and outscored Alexander 22-10 and the lead grew to 46-26.
“We made an adjustment in the second half how we were guarding. We were trying to keep the ball out of the lane a little better and not necessarily doubling so soon,” said Buchanan.
“It kind of took them out of getting dribble penetration in the lane. We felt we gave too much in the first half and I thought we did a better job. We have some athletic kids even on our back line who get out and close out on those shooters.”
For the game, Alexander had 30 turnovers and shot just 14-of-40 from the field. Fairland was 24-of-49 from the floor with 15 turnovers.
The Lady Dragons largest lead in the fourth quarter was 25 points. Buchanan said his team’s ability to score in transition was pivotal.
“They probably have a set defense when they want to double, but they’re not going to have a transition defense to double (Terra),” said Buchanan.
“Alexander may have been an overall faster team, but we still want to run off those rebounds and off those steals because we can get out in transition.”
Alexander (16-7) was led by Richardson with 13 points.
Alexander 9 7 10 11 = 37
Fairland 18 6 22 16 = 62
ALBANY ALEXANDER (16-7): Leah Richardson 5 0 3-4 13, Allyson Malone 0 2 0-0 6, Marilyn Rankin 2 0 0-0 4, Makina Milum 0 0 0-0 0, Kendall Meeks 1 0 1-2 3, Alexis Mohler 2 0 1-1 5, Carrie Nostrant 1 0 0-0 2, Chandler Wilson 0 0 0-0 0, Ally McClain 1 0 2-2 4, Jennie Mattison 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-40 7-9 37. 3-point goals: 2-16. Rebounds: 12-O, 17-D = 29 (Richardson 6). Team/deadball rebounds: 9. Assists: 3 (Richardson 2). Steals: 6 (Milum 2, Rankin 2). Turnovers: 30. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: None.
FAIRLAND (20-3): Terra Stapleton 12 0 5-5 29, Chandler Fulks 2 2 2-2 12, Kelsey Riley 3 0 0-2 6, Caitlin Stone 3 0 0-2 6, Taylor Perry 1 0 2-2 4, Taylor Staten 0 0 0-0 0, Jenna Fulks 0 0 1-4 1, Mackenzie Riley 1 0 2-3 4, Bri Dickess 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-49 12-20 62. 3-point goals: 2-8. Rebounds: 11-O, 16-D = 27 (Stapleton 10, K. Riley 4). Team/deadball rebounds: 3. Assists: 10 (K. Riley 5). Steals: 17 (Perry 5, Stone 3, C. Fulks 3). Turnovers: 15. Fouls: 12. Fouled out: None.