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Lady Dragons fight past Lady Tigers

Fairland Lady Dragons’ center Alesha Simpson (34) looks to go up between Ironton Lady FIghting Tigers’ defenders Lexie Arden and Lydia Hannan (2) during Thursday’s Ohio Valley Conference game. Fairland got the win 49-41. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Fairland Lady Dragons’ center Alesha Simpson (34) looks to go up between Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ defenders Lexie Arden and Lydia Hannan (2) during Thursday’s Ohio Valley Conference game. Fairland got the win 49-41. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

PROCTORVILLE — It was a key match-up that turned into a prize fight.
The Fairland Lady Dragons and Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers stood toe-to-toe on Thursday in an Ohio Valley Conference early season showdown, and it was the Lady Dragons who won the decision 49-41.
Much like the Apollo Creed vs. Rocky Balboa movie fights, Fairland took a 10-point lead in the first quarter before Ironton came off the canvas to take a halftime lead.
But Fairland came out punching with a pivotal third quarter to take a 15-point lead, then withstood another barrage of blows by Ironton before hanging on for the win.
Lady Dragons’ coach Jon Buchanan said keeping the punches coming with their pressure — especially in the third quarter — was the key.
“They had some turnovers against our pressure. They stepped on our sidelines three times in four possessions,” said Fairland coach Jon Buchanan.
“Emily (Chapman) is a great player, but I thought we had some kids step up and make some plays.”
Chapman scored 13 points to go with 5 rebounds and 2 steals as Fairland (3-0, 2-0) remained unbeaten.
But the Lady Dragons got key contributions from Taylar Wilson with 10 points and Alesha Simpson with 6 points and 5 rebounds.
“I thought Alesha’s 3 at the end of the first half was big. They got a five-point lead and we’re kinda like ‘man, are we going to go into halftime with our tail tucked between our legs’ and Alesha makes that 3 and then comes down on the next possession and gets fouled and makes one of two from the free throw line and we go down one with the ball coming out (to start the second half,” said Buchanan.

“That was a huge sequence for us. Taylar Wilson played like we thought she could play. (Kelsie) Warnock had a big play in the fourth quarter where she got an offensive rebound after they had just made a shot and got another stop.”
Ironton (2-1, 1-1) was led by Sydney Webb with 14 points — 11 in the first half — including four 3-point goals. Lexi Wise added 11 points while Lexie Arden came up big on the glass with 10 rebounds plus 6 points and 3 assists. Alyssa Lewis had 8 points and 3 steals.
“We did a rushed a few (shots), but I liked the fight in my kids. In the first quarter (Fairland) came out and got a good lead and after a timeout (we) responded well,” said Ironton coach Doug Graham.
“We got down 15 at the start of the fourth quarter and I think we cut it to five or six at one point. We got two good shots from Fairland and I like how my kids responded.”
A 3-pointer by Allie Marshall gave Fairland a 13-3 lead with 2:31 left in the first quarter.
Ironton battled back in the second quarter as Webb drained back-to-back trifectas and Arden hit a baseline shot as Ironton took a 21-20 lead with 2:56 left in the half.
Lewis then stole the ball and got a layup and Lydia Hannan’s layup off a pass from Arden had Ironton up 25-20 with 1:47 on the clock.
But Simpson hit her 3-pointer and foul shots and it was 25-24 at the break.
“Everybody’s scouting report says don’t let Webb shoot open 3s and ours is the same and she got some,” said Buchanan. “At halftime we said don’t let the scouting report beat us. I thought we did a much better in the second half. I think Webb made one, maybe two.”
Ironton was plagued by 10 unforced turnovers including five in the third quarter.
“Unforced turnovers definitely affected us. How many did we have? 15? I thought we had 20,” said Graham.
A layup by Wise gave Ironton a 27-24 lead but Chapman sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around two foul shots by Simpson and Fairalnd led 32-27 with 5:02 on the clock.
A put-back by Warnock made it 44-29 at the end of the quarter.
Webb hit a 3-pointer and then stole the ball and fed Wise for a layup. Wise sank a free throws and Arden made a layup as Ironton cut the deficit to 46-39 with 2:40 left.
Two foul shots by Wise got Ironton within 47-41 with 48 seconds left, but Wilson’s layup nine seconds later sealed the outcome.
Up next, Ironton hosts Gallipolis in an OVC game on Monday while Fairland plays North Adams on Saturday in the Big E Classic and then hosts Coal Grove in a league game on Monday.
Ironton       9    16    4    12    =    41
Fairland      14    10    20    5    =    49
IRONTON (2-1, 1-1): Sydney Webb 1 4 0-0 14, Lexi Wise 4 0 3-4 11, Alyssa Lewis 3 0 2-2 8, Lexie Arden 3 0 0-0 6, Lydia Arden 1 0 0-0 2, Taiya Hamlet 0 0 0-0 0, Riley Schreck 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-40 5-7 41. 3-point goals: 4-13. Rebounds; 3-O, 23-D = 23 (Arden 10, Hannan 4, Wise 4). Team/deadball rebounds: 2. Assists: 6 (Arden 3). Steals: 7 (Lewis 3). Turnovers: 15. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None.
FAIRLAND (3-0, 2-0): Allie Marshall 1 2 0-0 8, Taylar Wilson 3 1 1-4 10, Emily Chapman 1 3 2-2 13, Kelsie Warnock 2 1 1-2 8, Alesha Simpson 0 1 3-4 6, Morgan Fridley 0 0 0-0 0, Issy McKinney 0 0 1-2 1, Jackie Wagner 1 0 1-2 3. Totals: 16-45 9-16 49. 3-point goals: 8-19. Rebounds: 13-O, 22-D = 35 (Warnock 6, Simpson 5, Chapman 5). Assists: 5 (Marshall 2). Steals: 5 (Marshall 3, Chapman 2). Turnovers: 13. Fouls: 9. Fouled out: None.