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Dragons rally to win district in OT

Fairland Dragons’ Keedrick Cunningham drives to the basket looking for two of his career-high 29 points against Fairfield Union. Fairland rallied to win the district title, 66-60 in OT. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker

ATHENS — There always seems to be that one game in a tournament run when a team doesn’t play well but finds a way to win.
The Fairland Dragons had that game on Friday and they found a way to win.
Down by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, the Dragons rallied to tie the game and force overtime, then beat the Fairfield Union Falcons 66-60 to win the Division II district championship at the Ohio University Convocation Center.
The top sleuth who helped the Dragons find a way to win was senior Keedrick Cunningham. He scored a career high 29 points including 20 in the second half.
He came into the game averaging 10 points a game.
The Dragons (22-3) shot a dismal 7-of-27 from the field in the first half and made just one of 14 attempts in the second quarter as they scored only two points as they fell behind 31-15 at the half.
Luke Thomas had a layup and Cunningham made two foul shots to start the second half and cut the deficit to 34-19.
But the Falcons got a 3-pointer and an 18-footer from Evan Conrad to go up 36-19 with 5:25 on the third quarter clock.
Fairland finally got its offense going as Isaiah Howell converted a three-point play to trigger 14 unanswered points. Ty Staten’s two foul shots made it 36-33 with 1:38 left in the quarter.
The Falcons pulled themselves together as Hunter Harrah had a putback, Lucas Thompson made a layup and Harrah sank one of two free throws to make it 40-33 at the end of the quarter.
Thompson’s basket with 5:25 left in regulation put the Falcons ahead 48-37 and then Fairland began another surge.
The Dragons went on a 16-4 run capped by a steal and layup by Thomas that tied the game at 52-52 with 1:35 on the clock.
Thompson and Conley each made one of two free throws for a 54-52 lead with 47 seconds to go, but Cunningham’s driving layup tied the game with 32 seconds left in the quarter.
Fairfield Union missed two field goal attempts and the game went into overtime.
Cunningham and Thompson traded baskets to begin the extra period. Kollin Van Horn and Cunningham then made back-to-back baskets and Fairland had the lead for the first time since leading 13-12 with 49 seconds left in the first quarter.
Thompson had a layup to get the Falcons within 60-58, but Cunningham made a free throw and Howell was 3-of-4 at the line and the lead was 64-58 with 33 seconds left.
Conley hit a 10-footer but Cunningham’s two free throws with 17 seconds to go sealed the comeback win.
Thomas finished with 12 points while Howell had 10 points and 14 rebounds and Van Horn got 11 points.
Fairfield Union (20-5) was led by Conley with 17 points and Thompson with 16 points and nine rebounds. Harrah also had nine rebounds.
Colin Woodside — the program’s all-time leading scorer — had 10 points as he sat out most of the second half in foul trouble. He fouled out with 2:16 left in regulation.
The Dragons advance to the regional semifinals at Thursday at 8 p.m. at Ohio University’s Convocation Center to play the winner of Zanesville and Byesville Meadowbrook.
Fairfield    14    17    10    13    6    =    60
Fairland    13    2    19    20    12    =    66
FAIRFIELD UNION (20-5): Evan Conley 5-11 5-7 17, Spencer Conrad 1-3 2-2 5, Colin Woodside 5-9 0-2 10, Lucas Thompson 6-15 4-6 16, Huston Harrah 3-4 1-2 7, Chase Poston 0-1 0-0 0, Jacob Baker 1-1 2-2 5. Totals: 21-44 14-21 60. 3-pt goals: 4-13 (Conley 2-4, Conrad 1-3, Thompson 0-4, Baker 1-1, Poston 0-1). Rebounds: 7-O, 22-D = 29 (Thompson 9, Harrah 9, Woodside 6). Team/deadball rebounds: 3. Assists: 6 (Conley 2, Thompson 2). Steals: 0. Blocks: 3. Turnovers: 13. Fouls: 22. Fouled out: Woodside (4th 2:16).
FAIRLAND (22-3): Isaiah Howell 3-10 4-5 10, Ty Staten 0-1 4-6 4, Luke Thomas 4-11 3-5 12, Kollin Van Horn 4-6 3-7 11, Keedrick Cunningham 11-17 6-12 29, Joel Lambiotte 0-1 0-0 0, Matt Mondlak 0-1 0-0 0, Ty Wilcoxon 0-0 0-0 0, Clayton Thomas 0-0 0-0 0. 3-pt goals: 2-12 (Howell 0-3, Thomas 1-5, Van Horn 0-1, Cunningham 1-2). Rebounds: 10-O, 21-D = 31 (Howell 14, L. Thomas 6, Cunningham 5). Team/deadball rebounds: 1. Assists: 6 (Staten 5). Steals: 8 (Howell 4, Cunningham 3). Blocks: 2 (Van Horn 2). Turnovers: 6. Fouls: 20. Fouled out: None.