Dragons roll to D3 district championship
ATHENS — Space might be the final frontier, but spacing is the first rule of offensive success for the Fairland Dragons.
The Dragons kept the proper spacing that helped open up their offense as they knocked down eight 3-pointers in the first half to build a 19-point lead as they went on to rout the Chesapeake Panthers 71-43 to win the Division 3 district championship on Friday at the Ohio University Convocation Center.
Fairland was 8-of-15 from the arc in the first half and 9-of-23 for the game. The Dragons were 30-of-60 from the field for the game.
“We’ve been working, especially against (Chesapeake) on our spacing,” said Fairland coach Nathan Speed. “They are active defensively and are good at what they do.
“You have to have proper spacing and guys cutting to the right spot and coming to the pass. We were able to take advantage of that and get some open looks and our kids just k nocked them down.”
Gavin Hunt led the Dragons (23-2) with 18 points while Jacob Polcyn was 8-of-14 from the field as he scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to go with 5 assists.
Clayton Thomas had 14 points including four 3-pointers and handed out 8 assists. Zander Schmidt hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points off the bench.
Travis Grim scored 14 points, Trent Dearth 12 and Levi Blankenship 11 to lead the Panthers (20-4). Josh Cox had 12 rebounds.
The Dragons established the tempo quickly by racing to a 12-2 lead over the first three and a half minutes out of the starting gate as they never trailed in the game.
The closest the Panthers came was 30 seconds into the game when they trailed 3-2.
Thomas had two 3-pointers as the Dragons led 20-9 at the end of the quarter.
Panthers’ coach Ryan Davis said his team wasn’t at the top of their game.
“We weren’t exactly where we wanted to be defensively,” said Davis.
“(Fairland) got fantastic looks from three and they made them. We were out of sorts from after about 30 seconds.”
Schmidt had two of his 3-pointers with Thomas and Aiden Porter hitting one each as the lead grew to 37-18 at the half.
Chesapeake made just 1-of-10 shots from the 3-point line and 7-of-24 overall from the field in the first half.
“Rebounding and defensively, we did a great job all night. We held them to one shot and ran down some loose balls and longer rebounds early on,” said Speed.
“Some good stops led to some transition looks. We were wanting to control the tempo and get some stops.”
Chesapeake wasn’t about to roll over and quit as the Panthers came out of the locker room and went on a 7-0 run to begin the second half and cut the deficit to 37-25.
But Fairland shrugged off the scoring spurt as a bump in the road and scored 10 unanswered points over the next 3:20.
“These guys are so unselfish. They move the ball well and make the extra pass. They really don’t care who the leading scorer is. They just want to win,” said Speed.
Polcyn’s twisting shot inside for a layup put an end to the spurt and Hunt’s layup had the lead at 41-25.
Polcyn got another layup and Schmidt turned a steal into a layup and suddenly the lead was 45-25.
Cox got the next Panthers’ basket but Porter quickly answered and the Dragons were up 49-27.
Thomas hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer and Fairland built a comfortable 54-29 lead.
Fairland built its biggest lead at 60-31 with 5:47 to play.
The Panthers have lost three times to the Dragons this season including the two conference games in the regular season.
“It’s been a mental road block against them,” said Davis about the Dragons. “Our performances against them haven’t been what they are in some of our other games.”
However, Davis had nothing but praise for his seniors Austin Jackson and Cox.
“I’ve had great (seniors), but I can’t say I’ve had better ones than those two. They won four games their freshman years and five games their sophomore years. For them to stick it out and to help show these guys what we want out of our program and the type of people we want them to be. I can’t thank them enough,” said Davis.
UP NEXT: Fairland plays West Lafayette Ridgewood at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the regional semifinals at the Convocation Center.
Chesapeake 9 9 11 13 = 43
Fairland 20 17 17 17 = 71
CHESAPEAKE (20-4): Travis Grim 4 2 0-0 14, Nathan Cox 0 0 0-0 0, Levi Blankenship 3 1 2-3 11, Dilen Caldwell 0 0 0-0 0, Trent Dearth 3 2 0-0 12, Josh Cox 2 0 2-2 6, Nathan Cox 0 0 0-0 0, Austin Jackson 0 0 0-0 0, Ethan Taylor 0 0 0-0 0, Jacob Lemley 0 0 0-0 0, Levi Best 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-58 4-5 43. 3-pt goals: 5-26. Rebounds: 24 (J. Cox 12). Assists: 8. Steals: 3. Turnovers: 7. Fouls: 10. Fouled out: None.
FAIRLAND (23-2): Jacob Polcyn 8 0 0-1 16, Aiden Porter 1 1 0-0 5, Gavin Hunt 7 1 1-1 18, Clayton Thomas 1 4 0-0 14, Jordan Williams 1 0 0-0 2, Zander Schmidt 1 3 0-0 11, Tevin Taylor 1 0 1-2 3, Steeler Leep 1 0 0-0 2, J.D. Thacker 0 0 0-0 0, Hunter Lykens 0 0 0-0 0, Mason Manns 0 0 0-0 0, Nate Thacker 0 0 0-0 0, Cameron Mayo 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 30-60 2-4 71. 3-pt goals: 9-23. Rebounds: 36 (Polcyn 10). Assists: 18 (Thomas 8, Polcyn 5). Steals: 5. Turnovers: 8. Fouls: 9. Fouled out: None.
Members of the 1951 St. Joseph Flyers basketball team were: front row from left to right, Tim Rolph, Fred Lavender,... read more