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Lady Dragons beat Southeastern to reach district finals

Fairland Lady Dragons’ Allie Marshall (1) drives for a layup against Southeastern’s Ella Skeens (23) during Thursday’s Division III district semifinals. Fairland beat Southeastern 56-50 to reach the district finals. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Fairland Lady Dragons’ Allie Marshall (1) drives for a layup against Southeastern’s Ella Skeens (23) during Thursday’s Division III district semifinals. Fairland beat Southeastern 56-50 to reach the district finals. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker

jim.walker@irontontribune.com

 

WAVERLY — You might call the Fairland Lady Dragons basketball anti-junkies.

Fairland played its normal style on both ends of the floor and it worked again as the Lady Dragons beat the Southeastern Lady Panthers 56-50 on Thursday in the Division III district semifinals.

Fairland was confronted with the Southeastern duo of Ella Skeens and Audrie Wheeler. But instead of focusing just on those two players, the Lady Dragons just dug in and played team defense.

“I’m so proud of our team for not having to junk it up. We’ve watched their team a lot — Skeens is an unreal player — and everybody junks it up with box-and-ones, triangle and two, let’s say exotic names, and we played out defense,” said Fairland coach Jon Buchanan.

“We played what Fairland does for 32 minutes and what we do — what we tell our kids — is good enough. What we do will win. We’re real proud of that.”

Fairland used its balance on offense to offset the Lady Panthers duo.

Emily Chapman and Taylor Perry scored 12 points each, Kelsie Warnock had 10 points and eight rebounds, and Taylar Wilson had seven points and 11 rebounds.

Skeens had 23 points and eight rebounds while Wheeler finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

With the win, Fairland (20-3) recorded its fifth straight 20-win season and will now play Lynchburg-Clay 23-1) in the district finals at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Waverly downtown arena.

Lynchburg — ranked second in the final Associated Press poll — beat Westfall 60-42 in Thursday’s first game.

“They’ve never won 20 games in the history of the program and now they’ve had five straight seasons of 20 wins. I promise guys it’s not about me, it’s about them putting in the work all the time. They believe in the process,” said Buchanan.

“They know that whenever the season ends, 28 days after that it’s time to go again. They’ve bought into that. It may only be 17 or 18 of them, but those 17 or 18 are all in on that process and it pays off. It really does.”

The game was tied three times in the first quarter including 10-10 on a foul shot by Wheeler at the 1:08 mark.

Emma Fulton then made a layup and Chapman a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left and Fairland took a 15-10 lead.

A layup by Allie Marshall gave Fairland a 17-12 lead early in the second quarter but Southeastern pulled to within 27-25 at the half.

Wheeler hit a 3-pointer and a layup at the 5:42 mark to give the Lady Panthers a 30-29 lead, but it was short-lived as Perry answered with her own trifecta and Fairland had the lead for good at 32-30.

Skeens’ 12-footer with time running out in the quarter got Southeastern within 40-39 heading into the fourth quarter.

Warnock and Perry made layup and Wilson two foul shots and the lead was 46-39 with 5:46 left to play.

Southeastern (20-4) trailed 52-48 with 1:13 led after a short jumper by Skeens. Perry made two free throws with 1:01 left but Skeens hit a 15-footer with 29 seconds to go.

Perry was fouled again and converted both ends of the one-and-one with 24 seconds left.

“We really called out Taylor Perry in the locker room. We didn’t feel like she played very good in the first half. We said ‘Taylor, we need you.’ And there in the fourth quarter — her hitting those foul shots — that was because she wanted the basketball,” said Buchanan.

“I promise you in the huddle she’s telling us, ‘guys give me the ball, the girl can’t stay with me, she’ll foul me, I’m going to make the foul shots.’ That’s what a senior does. She stepped up and made free throws at the end and wanted the basketball. It’s a good lesson to our younger players.”

Fairland 15 12 13 16 = 56

Southeastern 10 15 14 11 = 50

FAIRLAND (20-3): Allie Marshall 2 0 0-1 4, Taylar Wilson 1 0 5-6 7, Emily Chapman 1 3 1-2 12, Taylor Perry 2 1 5-6 12, Kelsie Warnock 4 0 2-2 10, Emma Fulton 2 1 0-0 7, Tori Hall 2 0 0-0 4. Totals: 19-48 13-17 56. 3-point goals: 5-22. Rebounds: 9-O, 17-D = 26 (Wilson 11, Warnock 8). Team rebounds: 2. Assists: 6. Steals: 11 (Chapman 4, Warnock 4). Turnovers: 14. Fouls: 12. Fouled out: None.

SOUTHEASTERN (20-4): Ella Skeens 7 2 3-3 23, Rachel Collins 0 0 0-0 0, Audrie Wheeler 5 2 3-4 19, Kali Mitten 0 0 0-0 0, McKinley Mitten 1 1 1-2 6, Hunter Adams 0 0 0-0 0, Mandy Morris 0 0 2-2 2. Totals: 18-49 9-11 50. 3-point goals: 5-14. Rebounds: 14-O, 18-D = 32 (Wheeler 11, Skeens 8). Team rebounds: 5. Assists: 4 (M. Mitten 2). Steals: 4 (Morris 2). Turnovers: 17. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: K. Mitten (4th 1:01).