Dragons must battle Africentric’s size, pressure

Published 11:56 pm Monday, March 7, 2022

By Jim Walker


PROCTORVILLE — Don’t be surprised if you hear the Fairland Dragons yell “Timber!” during the Division 3 regional semifinal game.

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The Dragons — whose tallest player is 6-3 junior J.D. Thacker — are going up against some tall trees when they face the Columbus Africentric Nubians at 6 p.m. in the Ohio University Convocation Center.

“They’re really good at creating turnovers, pressuring the ball and getting in the passing lanes,” said Fairland coach Nathan Speed. “They’re very long, they will overplay a lot to create those turnovers. They want to get out in transition.”

But their size isn’t the only strength. Speed said the Nubians can shoot the ball, too.

‘Wagner is good getting inside and attacking the rim. Swain and Fuller and Wagner can all shoot from the outside,” said Speed. “Swain can go on all three levels. He can hit the three, the mid-range jumper and get to the paint and finish at the rim.”

The key figure in the Africentric offense is Dailyn Swain. A 6-foot-7 junior, Swain has already received numerous offers including Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Marquette.

He averages 21 points a game and was the Central District Player of the Year in Division 3. Swain scored 24 points in the 56-53 win over Columbus Bishop Ready in the district finals.

The Nubians 6-1 senior guard Daniel Wagner was also a first team all-district selection as he averages 16.2 points a game.

Named honorable mention for Africentric (21-5) on the district team were 6-6 senior Preston Steele and 6-3 senior Josiah Smith.

The fifth starter will come from either 5-9 sophomore point guard Laron Fuller or 6-5 senior center Andre Satchell.

Fairland (20-5) will counter with their own district player of the year in 6-foot- senior guard Aiden Porter who won the honor last season and shared it with Alexander’s Kyler D’Augustino.

Porter averages 22.1 points a game and is the program’s all-time leading scorer. He also averages 5.3 rebound, 4.8 assists and 2.1 steals. He is shooting 47 percent from the field and 74 from the foul line.

Thacker is second on the team with a 12.6 scoring average and has 6.2 rebounds a game. The third leading scorer is 5-10 sophomore guard Chase Allen at 10 points a game and he is shooting 42 percent from 3-point range.

The other two starters will be 6-1 sophomore Will Davis and 6-foot junior Steeler Leep.

Off the bench the Dragons have 5-11 junior Zion Martin, 6-2 sophomore Brycen Hunt and 5-10 freshman Brody Buchanan.

“Our kids have gotten so much better and their confidence is better and our defense is finally getting better,” Speed said of his young team that has only Porter back from last season and is the lone senior starter.

“We’re not big, but we’ve learned to be more patient on offense and try to get the good shot.”

The teams have one common opponent in Huntington, W.Va.

The Highlanders beat the Nubians 61-51 back on Dec. 21 while the Dragons lost to Huntington 55-53 in the final moments.

“The Huntington game is one we could have won,” said Speed.

The second game on Wednesday has Sugarcreek Garaway (21-4) facing Wheelersburg (15-11) at 8 p.m. The two winners will play in the regional finals at 1 p.m. on Saturday for the right to play in the state tournament.

Div. 3 Regional Semifinals

Fairland Dragons

Probably Starters

  0 Will Davis F 6-01 So.

  1 Aiden Porter G 6-00 Sr.

  4 J.D. Thacker F 6-03 Jr.

20 Chase Allen G 5-10 So.

30 Steeler Leep F 6-00 Jr.

Top Substitutes

  3 Zion Martin F 5-11 Jr.

33 Brycen Hunt F 6-02 So.

42 Brody Buchanan G 5-10 Fr.

Africentric Nubians

Probable Starters

  1 Daniel Wagner G 6-01 Sr.

  3 Dailyn Swain G 6-07 Jr.

  4 Laron Fuller PG 5-09 So.

  5 Josiah Smith F 6-03 Sr.

11 Preston Stelle F 6-06 Sr.

Top Substitutes

21 Andre Satchell C 6-05 Sr.

24 Dyson Bibins F 6-00 Jr.