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Balanced Dragons bounce Vikings in district semifinals

Fairland Dragons’ senior point guard Ty Staten (1) slices his way through two Vinton County defenders during Thursday’s Division II district semifinal. Staten had 11 points as the Dragons beat Vinton County 64-45 to reach the district finals on Friday, March 9. at Ohio University’s Convocation Center. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

ATHENS — When you plan for the Fairland Dragons, it’s sort of like pick your poison.
All five Fairland starters were in double figures as the Dragons toppled the Vinton County Vikings 64-45 in the Division II district semifinals on Thursday at Ohio University’s Convocation Center.
Keedrick Cunningham had 15 points, six rebounds and four steals while Ty Staten finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals to lead the Dragons.
Luke Thomas, Kollin Van Horn and Isaiah Howell all had 10 points each. Van Horn also had five rebounds and three blocked shots.
Fairland (21-3) will play Fairfield Union at 6:15 p.m. Friday, March 9, at the Convocation Center.
Fairfield Union (19-5) edged Gallipolis 49-46 in Thursday’s second game.
The Dragons balance was a key as Van Horn went out in the first quarter after being hit attempting to dunk the ball and cut his hand on the rim.
Cunningham picked up two foul in the first quarter and had to sit out and Van Horn got his third in the second quarter and was forced to the bench. Van Horn also whistled for his fourth foul in the third quarter and had to become a spectator for most of the quarter and part of the fourth stanza as well.
But the parity and strength of the other starters plus some key points off the bench from Clayton Thomas and Matt Mondlak also contributed to the Dragons’ success.
Nayton Yates scored 14 points for Vinton County (18-6). Eli Griffith had eight points and seven rebounds while Jake Speakman added eight points and five assists.
The Dragons jumped out to a 10-0 lead as their defense caused Vinton County to miss its first six shots.
Cunningham scored, Luke Thomas hit a 3-pointer and Van Horn converted a three-point play at the 6:22 mark.
Yates scored for the Vikings at the 3:22 mark and it was 10-2. They cut the spread to 14-9 on a basket by Cameron Hamon with 1:27 left in the quarter.
But a 3-pointer by Howell, a steal and layup by Thomas and a steal by Staten and layup by Thomas made it 21-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Yates hit a 3-pointer and got a basket to start the second quarter and it was 21-14. Van Horn made two straight baskets and it was 25-14.
Griffith had a putback with 3:28 left in the half and the Vikings were down 29-21.
A layup by Cunningham made it 31-21 before Yates hit a 3-pointer with 2:22 on the clock and it was 31-24. Thomas nailed a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left and it was 37-24 at the half.
The Dragons forced seven turnovers in the first half and converted them into points.
Back-to-back baskets by Staten made it a 43-26 game, Cunningham’s basket put Fairland up 45-30 but a Speakman basket got the Vikings within 49-37 with 13 seconds left in the third quarter.
Clayton Thomas came off the bench to hit a 3-pointer as time ran out and Fairland was up 52-37.
Matt Mondlak hit a 3-pointer off the bench to start the fourth quarter and Fairland now led 55-37.
The lead went to 62-41 with 4:21 to play on a three-point play by Cunningham. He also made two foul shots with 1:31 to play that gave Fairland its largest lead at 64-43.
Eli Griffith scored with 47 seconds left to complete the game’s scoring.
Vinton Co.    9    15    13    8    =    45
Fairland    21    16    15    12    =    64
VINTON COUNTY (18-6): Shawn McCarty 0 0 0-0 0, Ricky Body 0 0 0-0 0, Jake Speakman 4 0 0-0 8, Gavin Arbaugh 0 0 0-0 0, Nevan Yates 1 1 0-0 5, Noah Waddell 0 0 0-0 0, Bailey Bartoe 0 0 0-0 0, Cameron Harmon 1 0 1-3 3, Ash Abele 0 0 0-0 0, Eli Griffith 4 0 0-0 8, Lance Montgomery 0 0 0-0 0, Nayton Yates 4 2 0-4 14, Bryce Damron 3 0 1-1 7. Totals: 20-43 2-12 45. 3-pt goals: 3-9. Rebounds: 7-O, 15-D = 22 (Griffith 7, Ne. Yates 4). Assists: 6 (Speakman 5). Steals: 1 (Arbaugh). Turnovers: 12. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None.
FAIRLAND (21-3): Isaiah Howell 3 1 1-3 10, Ty Staten 4 1 0-2 11, Luke Thomas 2 2 0-0 10, Chase Fisher 0 0 0-0 0, Joel Lambiotte 0 0 0-0 0, Kollin Van Horn 3 1 1-2 10, Matt Mondlak 0 1 0-0 3, Keedrick Cunningham 6 0 3-3 15, Ty Wilcoxon 0 0 0-0 0, Clayton Thomas 0 1 2-2 5. Totals: 25-51 7-12 64. 3-pt goals: 7-13. Rebounds: 12-O, 23-D = 35 (Staten 10, Cunningham 6, Mondlak 6, Van Horn 5). Assists: 11 (Staten 5). Steals: 10 (Cunningham 4, Howell 2, Staten 2, L. Thomas 2). Blocks: 3 (Van Horn 3). Turnovers: 10. Fouls: 12. Fouled out; None.