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Lady Dragons rally by Ironton

Fairland Lady Dragons’ Kelsey Riley gets off a shot in traffic during Thursday’s Ohio Valley Conference game. The Lady Dragons  pulled away late for a 61-55 win. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Fairland Lady Dragons’ Kelsey Riley gets off a shot in traffic during Thursday’s Ohio Valley Conference game. The Lady Dragons pulled away late for a 61-55 win. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker

jim.walker@irontontribune.com

 

Each year the WWE features a Battle Royal. The Ohio Valley Conference had its own version on Thursday.

In a battle between the league’s top two teams, the Fairland Lady Dragons rallied for a 61-55 win over the Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers.

“We felt it would be a battle for 32 minutes. We have kids who are battle tested,” said Fairland coach Jon Buchanan.

Fairland has won the last three league titles virtually uncontested. Buchanan said having five seniors in the starting lineup was the key.

“We have a lot of seniors and we couldn’t have won without our senior leadership. Other than their freshman year, our girls have never really been in a big conference moment,” said Buchanan.

With the win, Fairland is now 8-3 overall and 6-1 in the OVC, one-half game behind Ironton. The Lady Fighting Tigers are 10-3 and 7-1 in the league.

Ironton won the earlier meeting at Fairland 51-46.

“They just made more plays than we did,” said Ironton coach Doug Graham.

“Cheyenne (Scott) played great for being out the last two weeks. Jordan Hannan hit some big shots and Lexi Wise played a great defensive game. Lexie Barrier and Sydney Webb played well, but Fairland just had some girls who played well, too.”

Kelsey Riley scored 17 points to lead a balanced Fairland offense.

Jenna Fulks scored 13 points, Caitlyn Stone had 10 points, Taylor Staten 9 and Mackenzie Riley 8.

“We try to spread it around. We’re playing with seniors who understand what we want to do. It’s not every year you have kids who are smart enough to do that,” said Buchanan.

Lexie Barrier had 14 points and 13 rebounds and Sydney Webb scored 14 points including four 3-pointers to lead Ironton’s offense. Cheyenne Scott — who has missed three games with a bad ankle — scored 12 points.

“We wanted to make (Barrier) a passer and make the others beat us and they almost did,” said Buchanan.

The game was tied five times and the lead exchanged hands on six occasions.

With the score 45-45 after three quarters, Fairland led 49-46 when Mackenzie Riley hit two foul shots with 6:17 left.

Scott’s 3-point play tied the game but Staten hit a 3-pointer to put Fairland back in front for good at 52-49 with 4:20 to play.

Ironton trailed 54-53 with 3:01 left following a 12-footer by Barrier. But Mackenzie Riley made a layup with 1:30 to play and the Lady Dragons were 5 of 6 from the line over the final 50 seconds.

Ironton held the game’s largest lead at 12-5 following trifectas by Webb and Hannan with 3:34 on the first quarter clock.

The game was tied 19-19 after a 17-footer by Staten only to have Ironton go up 25-19 on baskets by Webb, Zakia Lee and Scott.

A layup by Fulks made it 28-27 but Scott’s hook shot at the buzzer put Ironton ahead 30-27 at the half.

Two foul shots by Taylor Hannan — out the past three games with a sprained MCL — gave Ironton its biggest lead of the half at 40-35 in the third quarter. Fairland rallied to take the lead before Jordan Hanna’s 19-footer at the buzzer tied the game.

Ironton plays unbeaten Convoy Crestview at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Berlin Hiland “Classic in the Country.” The game is scheduled to air on WKLM radio’s TheVoiceof HolmesCounty.com

Fairland 14 13 18 16 = 61

Ironton 17 13 15 10 = 55

FAIRLAND (8-3, 6-1): Taylor Staten 1 2 1-2 9, Mackenzie Riley 2 0 4-4 8, Kelsey Riley 7 0 3-3 17, Caitlyn Stone 4 0 2-2 10, Jenna Fulks 4 0 5-7 13, Maddy Kazee 0 0 0-0 0, Alesha Simpson 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-52 15-18 61. 3-point goals: 6-15. Rebounds: 14-O, 13-D = 27 (Fulks 6, M. Riley 5, K. Riley 5). Team/deadball rebounds: 5. Assists: 7 (Staten 4). Stals: 9 (Stone 3, M. Riley 2, Fulks 2). Turnovers: 14. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: M. Riley (4th 0:43).

IRONTON (10-3, 7-1): Lexi Wise 1 0 0-0 2, Jordan Hannan 2 1 0-0 7, Lexie Barrier 5 0 4-6 14, D’Laynie Keith 0 0 1-2 1, Sydney Webb 1 4 0-0 14, Cheyenne Scott 5 0 2-3 12, Taylor Hannan 0 0 2-2 2, Zakia Lee 1 0 1-4 3. Totals: 20-44 10-17 55. 3-point goals: 5-11. Rebounds: 16-O, 17-D = 33 (Barrier 13, Wise 4). Team/deadball rebounds: 3. Assists: 8 (Wise 4, Scott 2). Steals: 8 (Webb 3, Scott 2). Blocked shots: 3 (Barrier 2, Wise 1). Fouls: 15. Fouled out: None.