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Lady Dragons reach regional finals again

Fairland Lady Dragons’ Caitlin Stone (23) looks for an open teammate as she brings the ball up the court. Fairand beat Wheelersburg 46-41 to reach the Division III regional finals. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Fairland Lady Dragons’ Caitlin Stone (23) looks for an open teammate as she brings the ball up the court. Fairand beat Wheelersburg 46-41 to reach the Division III regional finals. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker

jim.walker@irontontribune.com

 

LOGAN — The shooting wasn’t that good. In fact, Fairland made just one field goal in the second half.

But the Lady Dragons kept playing defense as they beat the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates 46-41 on Wednesday in the Division III regional semifinals.

Fairland made 15-of-46 shots for 32.6 percent, but the defense clamped down on Wheelersburg’s 3-point shooting as the Lady Pirates were only 2-of-14 from behind the arc.

“We tell the girls, you can leave your shot in Proctorville and you can leave your offense in Proctorville, but you can always take your defense with you,” said Fairland coach Jon Buchanan.

Fairland (21-5) will play Fort Frye (24-3) at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday in the regional finals with the winner advancing to the state tournament.

“We set a goal last year to return (to the state tournament). No one really believed we could, but these girls believe they can,” said Buchanan.

“Fort Frye is a really good team. I don’t know how their length will affect us. But these are two experienced teams who have been here before. It should be a great game,” said Buchanan.

Wheelersburg (22-3) took a 5-0 lead but the Lady Dragons went on an 18-3 run and led 18-12 at the end of the first quarter.

Brooke Smith hit a 3-pointer at the 5:04 mark of the second quarter as Wheelersburg got within 23-19.

Caitlin Stone answered for Fairland with her on 3-ball and Fairland went on a 9-0 run to end the half to open up a 32-19 halftime lead.

Mackenzie Riley’s driving layup gave Fairland a 36-23 lead with 3:51 on the third quarter clock. It was the Lady Dragons’ only field goal of the second half.

The Lady Pirates scored eight unanswered points to close the third quarter and slice the Fairland lead to 36-31.

Kelsey Riley made two foul shots for Fairland but Mikayla Akers and Sydney Holden scored inside as Wheelersburg got within 38-36.

A three-point play by Brooklyn Adams got Wheelersburg within 40-39 with 2:02 to play.

But the Lady Pirates began putting the Lady Dragons at the foul line. Mackenzie Riley hit both ends of a one-and-one with 1:12 left and Emily Chapman sank two more free throws with 48 seconds left as Fairland went up 44-39.

“We called a time out to tell them to settle down and just keep being aggressive. This is a veteran group and they’ve been through the wars before,” said Buchanan.

“We missed some free throws earlier, but when the game was on the line the girls stepped up and hit the big shots.”

Holden scored to make it 44-41, but Kelsey Riley’s two foul shots with 24 seconds left sealed the win.

Fairland was just 1-of-18 from the field in the second half.

Kelsey Riley had 12 points and 12 rebounds while Mackenzie Riley had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Holden had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Pirates. Smith added 10 points.

Fairland 18 14 4 10 = 46

Wheelersburg 12 7 12 10 = 41

FAIRLAND (21-5): Taylor Staten 0 0 0-0 0, Mackenzie Riley 3 0 4-6 10, Kelsey Riley 3 0 6-10 12, Caitlin Stone 1 2 0-0 8, Jenna Fulks 0 1 0-0 3, Alesha Simpson 1 0 0-1 2, Emily Chapman 1 1 2-3 7, Maddy Kazee 2 0 0-0 4. Totals: 15-46 12-20 46. 3-point goals: 4-15. Rebounds: 42 (K. Riley 12, M. Riley 8, Chapman 5). Assists: 8 (M. Riley 3, K. Riley 3). Turnoves: 14. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: None.

WHEELERSBURG (22-3): Brooke Smith 2 2 0-1 10, Kalle Coleman 3 0 3-6 9, Sydney Holden 7 0 0-0 14, Brooklyn Adams 1 1 2-3 6, Makayla Akers 1 0 0-0 2, Ellie Ruby 0 0 0-2 0, Brittany Swim 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-43 5-12 41. 3-point goals: 2-14. Rebounds: 25 (Holden 9). Assists: 14 (Holden 5, Akers 3, Ruby 3). Turnovers: 10. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: None.