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Dragons go cold in loss to Mustangs

ATHENS — When the lights went out in the arena, they stayed out for the Fairland Dragons.

After taking a 12-point halftime lead, the Dragons’ were just 8-of-25 from the field in the second half as the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs rallied for a 73-62 win in the Division III district finals on Saturday at the Ohio University Convocation Center.

“We didn’t shoot well. I think we let the pressure get to us. When they made their last run the crowd got into it and we rushed a few things. Defensively, we kind of stopped guarding and let them get to the rim too easy,” said Fairland coach Nathan Speed.

“We kept saying slow down, we don’t need it all at once. I think we forced some shots and got away from what we do offensively.”

Fairland (20-5) came out hot and made 10-of-16 shots in the first quarter including a layup by Isaiah Howell and a shorts jumper by Kollin Van Horn to end the quarter and put the Dragons up 23-16.

A triple by Luke Thomas and a layup by Van Horn off a pass from Howell opened up a 30-20 at the 5:52 mark.

Christian Inman came off the bench to score 12 points including a layup with 1:55 left in the half as Lynchburg cut the spread to 33-32.

But Short and Hayden James both hit 3-pointers, Short sank two foul shots and then knocked down another triple with eight seconds on the clock and Fairland led 44-32 at the half.

Fairland had four turnovers to begin the second half and fuel a 9-0 run before baskets by Howell and Van Horn put the lead at 54-46 at the 2:49 mark.

A layup by Devin Pierson just before the end of the quarter cut Fairland’s lead to 56-52.

A 3-point play by Pierson with 4:05 left tied the game at 62. A power outage in Athens made the lights go out momentarily in the arena and caused the scoreboards to go blank with 3:38 on the clock.

Play resumed and River Mullins hit both ends of a one-and-one at the 3:04 mark to give Lynchburg its first lead of the game at 64-62.

Joe Giordano then buried an 18-footer and a putback basket by Pierson upped the lead to 68-62 with two minutes to play.

Fairland continued to misfire and the Mustangs went 4-for-4 at the foul line over the final 47 seconds to seal the district title.

Van Horn finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Short had 15 points — all in the first half — and Howell added 10 points.

Lynchburg (23-2) was led by Pierson with 23 points and Giordano with 21. Christian finished with 12.
Lynchburg will play the Chesapeake and Lucasville Valley winner at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday at Ohio University.

Lynchburg Clay 16 16 20 21 = 73
Fairland 23 21 12 6 = 62

LYNCHBURG CLAY (23-2): Zach Blankenship 1 0 2-4 4, Eric McLaughlin 2 1 2-2 7, River Mullins 2 0 2-2 6, Devin Pierson 8 0 7-8 23, Joe Giordano 8 3 2-5 21, Christian Inman 5 2 0-2 12. Totals: 26-55. 3-point goals: 6-14. Rebounds: 9, 25 = 34. Assists: 10. Seals: 5. Turnovers: 10. Blocks: 5 Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None.

FAIRLAND (20-5): Kollin Van Horn 8 0 1-2 17, Gunner Short 5 3 2-4 15, Isaiah Howell 4 1 1-2 10, Luke Thomas 3 1 0-0 7, Ty Staten 2 0 2-4 6, Keedric Cunningham 2 0 0-0 4, Hayden James 0 1 0-0 3, Hunter Ashton 0 0 0-0 0. Totals 25-57. 3-point goals: 6-19. Rebounds: 9 25 = 34. Assists: 9. Steals: 6. Turnovers: 16. Blocks: 4. Fouls: 22. Fouled out:: Ty Staten