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Dragons advance to regional title game


Fairland Dragons’ sophomore guard Aiden Porter (1) keeps the ball away from West Lafayette Ridgewood’s Trey Stoffer (20) during Wednesday’s Division 3 regional semifinal tournament game. Fairland won, 68-58. (Photo By Tim Gearhart)

Jim Walker

PROCTORVILLE — The Fairland Dragons have a “Go” button and they have a “Reset” button.
But there doesn’t seem to be any “Panic” button.
After falling behind 8-0 to start the game, the Dragons stayed the course and came back to beat the West Lafayette Ridgewood Generals 68-58 in the Division 3 regional semifinals at the Ohio University Convocation Center on Wednesday.
“I think it’s just the experience of our guys. I’m proud of them for being calm after that start. I think someone said (Ridgewood) shot 71 percent in the first quarter,” said Fairland coach Nathan Speed.
Ridgewood did shoot 71 percent in the first quarter as they hit 5-fo-7 shots including 3-pointers by Dalton Patterson and Trey Stoffer to open the game.
“They hit some good shots, some tough shots, but we really weren’t defending that great, either,” said Speed.
The Dragons (24-2) did get some good defense after the bad start, especially from guard Gavin Hunt.
Koleton Smith had 16 points to lead the Generals but he only managed a 3-pointer in the second half. Speed praised Hunt for his defense.
“We switched to Gavin to put a little more length on (Smith). Gavin just did a tremendous job in the second half limiting him his touches and forcing him to take off-balance shots,” said Speed.
Fairland was led by Aiden Porter with 28 points while Jacob Polcyn scored 21. Porter had 14 points in each half and Polcyn got 13 in the second half.
“(Porter) did a good job getting to the basket, hitting his spots. He wasn’t forcing stuff. He missed his first couple of 3s. I think he shot an air ball on one. But he showed his maturity there. Last year he would have been off-balance the whole game, but he toughened up and stuck with it,” said Speed.
After Ridgewood took the 8-0 lead, Jordan Williams had a layup and Porter hit a 3-pointer.
Back-to-back layups by Porter put the Dragons up 11-10 before Patterson’s layup gave the Generals a 12-11 first quarter lead.
A 15—footer by Porter and layups by Polcyn gave Fairland a 17-12 lead with 5:46 on the clock.
Smith hit a 3-pointer at the 3:11 mark to give Ridgewood a 23-21 lead and Stoffer hit a layup and Smith two foul shots with 2:15 left in the half for a 27-21 lead.
Clayton Thomas hit a 3-pointer for Fairland to end the run but Connor Kunze had two foul shots and Smith hit a long triple for a 32-24 lead.
Hunt’s putback and Porter’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to 32-29 before a pair of free throws gave Ridgewood a 34-29 halftime lead.
Stoffer made a layup to start the second half, but the Dragons went on an 11-0 run to take a 41-36 lead with 4:32 left in the third quarter.
“(Ridgewood) came out ready to play. They’re a good team, but give our kids credit. They got back in the game, got back in the flow offensively after we got a few stops,” said Speed.
A putback by Kole Hamilton tied the game at 43 for the Generals only to have Porter hit a 3-pointer to give the Dragons the lead for good.
A layup by Porter and a foul shot by Zander Schmidt put Fairland ahead 49-45 to end the quarter.
A layup by Gage Tingle got Ridgewood within 49-47 but the Dragons opened up a 60-50 lead on layups by Polcyn and Porter.
The Generals made one last run and drew within 62-58 on two layups by Patterson, but that was as close as they would get.
UP NEXT: Fairland plays No.1-ranked Canal Winchester Harvest Prep (22-3) in the regional title game is 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Convocation Center.
Harvest Prep beat Zane Trace 58-46 in the first game on Wednesday.
Fairland 11 18 20 19 = 68
Ridgewood 12 20 11 13 = 58
FAIRLAND (24-2): Jacob Polcyn 7-10 1-1 4-5 21, Aiden Porter 8-13 3-8 28, Gavin Hunt 4-7 0-1 1-3 9, Clayton Thomas 0-1 1-8 0-0 3, Jordan Williams 3-5 0-0 0-0 6, Zander Schmidt 0-1 0-2 1-2 1, Tevin Taylor 0-1 0-0 0-0 0, Nate Thacker 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, J.D. Thacker 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Hunter Lykens 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Mason Manns 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Steeler Leep 0-0 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 27-57 9-13 68. 3-pt goals: 5-20. Rebounds: 13-O, 23-D = 36 (Polcyn 8, Williams 8, Hunt 7). Team/deadball rebounds: 5. Assists: 15 (Thomas 8, Polcyn 4). Steals: 8 (Hunt 2, Thomas 2, Williams 2). Turnovers: 12. Fouls: 12. Fouled out: None.
RIDGEWOOD (24-3): Gabe Tingle 3-4 0-2 1-3 7, Koleton Smith 1-5 4-7 2-2 16, Dalton Patterson 4-5 1-3 0-0 11, Connor Kunze 0-4 0-0 2-2 2, Trey Stoffer 4-6 1-4 3-5 14, Kole Hamilton 1-1 2-3 0-2 8, Kadin Bradford 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Kigenn Millender 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Kaden Smith 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Blayden McCoy 0-0 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-44 8-13 58. 3-pt goals: 8-19. Rebounds: 5-O, 15-D = 20 (Patterson 3, Tingle 3). Team/deadball rebounds: 5. Assists: 2. Steals: (Ko. Smith 2, Stoffer 2). Turnovers: 14. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None.