Lady Dragons win in regional finals

Published 12:54 am Sunday, March 15, 2015

Craig Dunn
Courtesy of the Logan Daily News

LOGAN — Earning a return trip to Columbus for the state Division III girls basketball final four may have been twice as difficult — but, ultimately, twice as sweet — for the Fairland Lady Dragons Saturday afternoon.

Locked in a regional final battle of contrasting styles with the Fort Frye Lady Cadets, the Lady Dragons found themselves down a dozen points — having managed only to score nine — more than halfway through the third period.

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That’s when Fairland began making big plays to claw its way back into the game and finally took the lead for good with 1:41 remaining in a low-scoring — but highly-dramatic and highly-competitive — game in which they ultimately prevailed, 31-28.

Five-foot-four freshman guard Emily Chapman brought the drama to an end by managing to deflect a potential game-tying triple in the final seconds.

Fairland (22-5) thus earned its second-consecutive berth in the state D3 tournament and will take on Ottawa-Glandorf (25-2), a 43-30 victor over North Union on Saturday, in a state semifinal Thursday (8 p.m.) at the Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State University.

And to get to the Schott, the Lady Dragons had to overcome a defense-minded Fort Frye (24-4) team seeking its second state tourney berth in three seasons.

“When you get behind Fort Frye, they just hold it, and we knew that coming in” Fairland coach Jon Buchanan said. “It was two contrasting styles, and their style won out for a long time,” he added.
“We wanted to force the tempo as much as we could, and I thought when we got it sped up a little bit in the second half (the Cadets) turned it over. We knew it was going to be a tempo game (knowing that) Fort Frye wants to run long possessions and Fairland is (get a) first wide-open shot, shoot it” team.

For a big portion of the game, patience was indeed a virtue for the Lady Cadets, who oftentimes held the ball for more than a minute on a single possession and, for the game, had nearly as many turnovers (17) as shots attempted (20) from the field.

And that reflected in the first-half score. It was tied 6-6 after one period before the Lady Cadets took a 10-8 halftime advantage by “outscoring” the Dragons 4-2 in the second stanza.

Neither team scored until Fairland’s Kelsey Riley hit a driving bank shot in the lane with 3:15 left in the quarter before Fort Frye scored the last four points.

But when play opened up a bit in the third period, it was the Lady Cadets, not the Lady Dragons, who drew first blood. Fort Frye outscored Fairland 11-1 in the first four-plus minutes, beginning and ending the run on a pair of three-balls by guard Michelle Adkins, one of only three Cadets who would score.

Her second triple put Fort Frye ahead 21-9 with 3:38 left in the third stanza. After a Kelsey Riley free throw, Jenna Fulks made a tough trek to the tin following a steal on the baseline and Chapman knocked down a trifecta to pull the Dragons within 21-15 with 2:55 left in the period.

Adkins drove the lane for what proved to be Fort Frye’s final basket of the quarter — and next-to-last field goal of the game — with 2:15 left, and it stayed 23-15 until Caitlin Stone nailed a triple from the top of the key at the buzzer.

“If we don’t come out with a couple positive plays out of that time-out, who knows what happens,” Buchanan said. “But we came out and cut it to six and now you start believing again. If it would have went the other way and we still couldn’t score, who knows what could have happened.”

Fort Frye still led by five (26-21) after Alexis Enochs drove the lane for a basket with 5:58 remaining, but Stone countered with her second triple on the next possession before Chapman came up with a huge steal near midcourt and drove in for the tying layup with 4:31 to play.

Fairland called a timeout and fouled Adkins on the inbounds play, and she hit both free throws to regain the lead for Fort Frye. Neither team would make a field goal the rest of the game.

Fairland pulled within one on a Mackenzie Riley free throw then took the lead for good with 1:41 remaining on two charity shots by Fulks.

The drama wasn’t over.

Fort Frye was called for traveling with 1:14 left before the Lady Dragons ran the clock down to 36.9 seconds, when Chapman was fouled and converted a free throw to make it 30-28.

Both shots missed, however, and Kelsey Riley rebounded and was fouled with 19.2 seconds remaining. She missed both shots, though, and Fort Frye’s Megan Liedtke rebounded, but on her way upcourt was called for a charging foul and Fairland took over with 16.6 seconds to go.

After being forced into calling a timeout, when the Dragons finally got the ball inbounds, it appeared that Fort Frye had achieved a tie ball º— and the possession arrow was in favor of the Lady Cadets — but Buchanan called (and was granted) a timeout a split second before the tie-up.

Chapman was fouled with 7.1 seconds to go and made the front end of a two-shot situation for a three-point lead, but it stayed a one-possession game when she missed the second. There was a tie ball on the rebound and Fort Frye was granted possession with five seconds left.

Despite being out of timeouts, the Cadets managed to get the ball upcourt in time for Makayla Liedtke to attempt a three from the right corner, but when Chapman managed to cleanly get a couple fingers on the ball, it dropped well short as the clock finally expired.

Fairland 6 2 10 13 = 31
Fort Frye 6 4 13 5 = 28

FAIRLAND (22-5): Taylor Staten 0 0 0-0 0, Mackenzie Riley 2 0 2-4 6, Kelsey Riley 1 0 2-6 4, Caitlin Stone 0 3 0-0 9, Jenna Fulks 1 0 3-4 5, Emily Chapman 1 12-4 7, Alesha Simpson 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 9-38 9-18 31. 3-point goals: 4-21. Rebounds: 20 (Fulks 5, K. Riley 4). Assists: 6 (M. Riley 2). Turnovers: 7. Fouls: 19. Fouled out: None.

FORT FRYE (23-4): Michelle Adkins 1 2 4-7 12, Katie Hart 0 0 0-0 0, Alexis Enochs 5 0 2-6 12, Makayla Liedtke 0 0 0-0 0, Megan Liedtke 0 1 1-4 4, Karisa Lang 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 9-20 7-17 28. 3-point goals: 3-12. Rebounds: 30 (Me. Liedtke 11, Enochs 4, Hart 4). Assists: 6 (Adkins 2, Enochs 2). Turnovers: 19. Fouls: 19. Fouled out: Enochs.