Dragons escape Fighting Tigers’ upset bid

Published 12:10 am Sunday, January 29, 2017

Jim Walker

The Fairland Dragons don’t see too many of these kind of games.
Fairland has rarely been tested this season. There was a 71-65 win over Huntington and an overtime win over Athens. Their only loss was by 22 to Division I Hilliard Bradley.
But no one has come close in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Until Friday.
The Dragons remained unbeaten in the OVC as they escaped the Ironton Fighting Tigers’ upset bid 56-53.
Fairland won the first meeting with Ironton 81-40 in a game that wasn’t even that close.
But this time Ironton played up to its potential.
“You have to play a great game against a great team. We did a million things great we haven’t been doing in the past few games,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon.
“I told the kids let’s not get in our own way. Potential is just that. When we play, we can play with anyone in our region. Let’s not get in our own way.”
The Dragons — who are still missing Kollin Van Horn — were 21-of-45 from the field for 47 percent but just 4-of-13 from the 3-point line and 10-of-19 at the foul line.
“We were able to disrupt their rhythm. You have to know when it’s time to go and when it’s time to pull it out and we did a good job of that,” said LaFon. “It was a great team effort.”
Ironton was 21-of-54 from the floor for just 39 percent and 3-of-11 from behind the arc. The Fighting Tigers were 8-of-13 at the line.
Fairland (15-1, 9-0) used a put-back by Luke Thomas to go up 47-36 last in the third quarter for the biggest lead of the game., but Kyle Adkins hit a 3-pointer and Ryan Bryant had a put-back that got Ironton within 47-41 at the end of the quarter.
A layup by Adkins and a 15-footer by Joel Blankenship got Ironton within 48-45. Gunner Short made a layup to put Fairland ahead 52-47 but Raphael Glover’s three-point play cut the spread to 52-50 with 4:53 lead.
A layup by Glover left Fairland up 54-53 with 2:12 to go and Ironton (8-7, 4-5) had chances to take the lead only to miss a couple of shots and turn the ball over once.
“We got two good looks to tie or win. That’s all you can ask for,” said LaFon. “Bryant played his best game of the season without a doubt. He controlled inside and that allowed other guys to get layups and other opportunities.”
Ethan Wilson hit a trifecta that gave Ironton its biggest lead of the game at 9-4 with just under three minutes in the first quarter, but a steal and layup by Isaiah Howell and a 12-footer by Ty Staten to end the quarter gave Fairland a 13-11 lead.
Wilson’s three-point play and a free throw to start the second quarter had Ironton up 15-13, but it was the Fighting Tigers last lead as Gunner Short hit a 3-pointer and Howell made a layup.
A 10-footer by Keedrick Cunningham put Fairland ahead 32-27 at the half.
Cunningham scored 10 points in the third quarter as Fairland built its 11-point lead before Ironton began its comeback.
Cunningham had 18 points and five rebounds for the Dragons while Short scored 15.
Wilson scored 16 and both Andrew Scott and Bryant had 10 points for Ironton. Bryant hauled down 14 rebounds.
On Tuesday, Ironton visits Gallipolis and Fairland goes to Coal Grove.
Fairland    13    19    15    9    =    56
Ironton       11    16    14    12    =    53
FAIRLAND (15-1, 9-0): Ty Staten 2 0 2-4 6, Luke Thomas 3 1 0-0 9, Isaiah Howell 3 0 1-3 7, Keedrick Cunningham 6 1 3-5 18, Gunner Short 3 2 3-5 15, Joel Lambiotte 0 0 1-2 1, Matt Mondlak 0 0 0-0 0, Dairus Stapleton 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-45 10-19 56. 3-point goals: 4-13. Rebounds: 18-O, 20-D = 38 (Bryant 14, Wilson 6, Scott 6). Team/deadball rebounds: 4. Assists: 6 (Staten 3). Steals: 11 (Howell 3, Cunningham 3). Turnovers: 10. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: None.
IRONTON (8-7, 4-5): Ethan Wilson 5 1 3-5 16, Joel Blankenship 1 0 0-0 2, Andrew Scott 4 0 2-2 10, Jourdyn Barrow 1 0 0-0 2, Raphael Glover 2 0 1-4 5, Ryan Bryant 4 0 2-2 10, Kyle Adkins 1 2 0-0 8, Hunter Humphreys 0 0 0-0 0, Ryan Payne 0 0 0-0 0, Jordan Grizzle 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-54 8-13 53. 3-point goals: 3-11. Rebounds: 18-O, 20-D = 38 (Bryant 14, Scott 6, Wilson 6). Team/deadball rebounds: 4. Assists: 7 (Adkins 2, Bryant 2). Steals: 7 (Bryant 4). Turnovers: 14. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: Scott (4th 0:21).

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