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Dragons pull away late from upset-minded Hornets


Coal Grove Hornets’ Tait Matney goes for a layup as Fairland Dragons’ Zander Schmidt tries to draw a charging foul. (Kent Sanborn/Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

COAL GROVE — Hornets can be a pesky insect that can do some harm with its stinger.
The Coal Grove Hornets emulated their namesake as they were both pesky and harmful for more than three quarters on Friday against the Fairland Dragons who lead the Ohio Valley Conference.
But the Dragons used some turnovers and clutch foul shooting over the final five minutes of the game to beat the Coal Grove Hornets 54-39 in a game that was much closer than the final score.
With the win, the 10th-ranked Dragons improved to 9-3 and remain unbeaten in the Ohio Valley Conference at 7-0.
Aiden Porter was the key weapon again for the Dragons with a game-high 21 points. Clayton Thomas and J.D. Thacker added 10 points each.
Coal Grove (5-4, 3-2) had eight different players scored with Braxton Horn scoring 8 and Jarren Hicks 7.
Porter hit a pair of 3-pointers and Jacob Polcyn had two baskets as Fairland led 12-9 after the first quarter. Perry Kingery had all 5 of his points in the quarter for the Hornets.
The Hornets tied the game at 18 and Hicks made a driving layup with 31 seconds left in the half as Coal Grove took a surprising 20-18 lead at the break.
A steal by Hunter Staton led to a layup by Malachi Wheeler as Coal Grove took a 25-21 lead with 6:10 on the third quarter clock.
Polcyn’s layup and Porter’s 15-footer tied the game and Gavin Hunt’s 3-pointer at the 3:30 mark gave Fairland a 28-25 lead.
A trifecta by Trevor Hankins enabled the Hornets to tie the game with 1:39 left in the quarter, but Porter hit foul shot and Thacker was 3-of-4 at the line as Fairland went up 34-30 to end the quarter.
Thomas got a layup off a fastbreak and Porter’s layup with 5:12 to go opened up a 38-30 lead.
Coal Grove missed numerous layups throughout the game and Fairland began forcing turnovers as the momentum was in favor of the Dragons.
Thacker converted a 3-point play to make it 44-35 and Porter scored 6 straight points and it was now 50-35.
Fairland 12 6 16 20 = 54
Coal Grove 9 11 10 9 = 39
FAIRLAND (9-3, 7-0): Jacob Polcyn 3 0 2-2 8, Aiden Porter 3 3 6-8 21, Gavin Hunt 1 1 0-0 5, Clayton Thomas 2 2 0-0 10, J.D. Thacker 2 0 6-8 10, Jordan Williams 0 0 0-0 0, Zander Schmidt 0 0 0-0 0, Nate Thacker 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 11 6 14-18 54. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: None.
COAL GROVE (5-4, 3-2): Malachi Wheeler 2 0 1-2 5, Jarren Hicks 3 0 1-2 7, Trevor Hankins 0 1 0-0 3, Tait Matney 1 0 2-2 4, Hunter Staton 1 1 0-0 5, Elijah Dillon 1 0 0-0 2, Braxton Horn 1 2 0-0 8, Perry Kingery 2 0 1-3 5. Totals: 11 4 5-9 39. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: Wheeler.