Out of rhythm Dragons fall to Nubians in D3 regionals

Published 8:34 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Fairland Dragons’ Aiden Porter (1) is fouled as he goes in for a layup. Porter scored a game-high 23 points but the Dragons lost 51-43 to Columbus Africentric in the Division 3 regional semifinals on Wednesday. (Photo by Tim Gearhart)


Fairland Dragons’ Steeler Leep (30) drives past a Columbus Africentric defender during Wednesday’s Division 3 regional semifinals. The Dragons lost a tough 51-43 decision. (Photo by Tim Gearhart)

By Jim Walker


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ATHENS — The Fairland Dragons could have used a warm-up quarter or two.

The Dragons were not their usual selves in the first half on Wednesday’s Division 3 regional semifinal game. They were back in form in the second half but they had dug a hole too deep to climb out of against a talented Columbus Africentric Nubians team.

The result was a 51-43 loss and a heartbreaking end to a Cinderella season.

Fairland shot just 3-of-10 from the field in the first quarter and 2-of-9 in the second quarter for a combined 5-of-19 or just 26.3 percent.

That improved in the second half as the Dragons made 5-of-12 shots in each of the third and fourth quarters for 41.7 percent. But they were only 15-of-43 for the game or 34.9 percent including just 4 of-16 from behind the arc for 25 percent.

Africentric (24-5) was just 4-of-13 in the first quarter for 30.8 percent as they took a 12-10 lead, but shot 18-of-30 the rest of the game and finished 22-of-43 for 51.2 percent.

The Dragons (20-6) fell behind 7-0 to start the game as Dan Wagner hit a 3-pointer and Dailyn Swain got a pair of layups.

Fairland — with only one returning starter from last season — scored 6 unanswered points on a layup by J.D. Thacker and four foul shots by Aiden Porter and it was 7-6 at the 4:04 mark.

A 3-pointer by Josiah Smith of the Nubians made it 10-6 before Porter’s layup cut the deficit to 10-8.

A dunk by Swain and layups by Steele and Smith put the lead at 16-10.

J.D. Thacker’s layup with 2 minutes left in the half got Fairland with 16-12 only to have the Nubians score the final 6 points of the half to lead 22-12 at the break.

Fairland finally found its rhythm to start the second half  with 7 unanswered points on layups by Will Davis and Porter and a triple by Thacker and it was 22-19.

But the Dragons would never lead in the game and the closest they would get the rest of the game was 29-23 late in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Porter.

Africentric used layups by Swain and Steele to lead 33-26 at the end of the quarter.

The Nubians opened up a 41-30 lead when Swain blocked a shot, grabbed the rebound and threw to a streaking Steele for a dunk with 5:47 to play.

Brody Buchanan’s 3-pointer got Fairland within 43-35 but another dunk by Steele had the lead at 47-36.

Fairland began to foul and the Nubians were just 2-of-6 at the line in the quarter that gave the Dragons a ray of hope.

Buchanan’s second trifecta cut the lead to 47-43 with 39 seconds left, but Steele sank a foul shot, Swain made a free throw and then came up with a steal and layup to settle the outcome.

Porter closed out a great career with a game-high 23 points to pace the Dragons. Porter was a two-time Southeast Ohio -All-District Player of the Year and became the school’s all-time leading scorer.

Steeler Leep had 5 rebounds and Porter 4 as the Dragons held a 28-25 rebound advantage.  Chase Allen had 4 assists and Hunt 2 steals.

Swain led the the Nubians with 16 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 4 blocked shots. Steele got 13 points and 2 steals and Wagner had 9 points on three 3-pointers.

Aftricentric will play the winner of Sugarcreek Garaway and Wheelersburg at 1 p.m. Saturday in the regional finals.

Africentic 10 12 11 18 = 51

Fairland   8 4 14 17 = 43

COLUMBUS AFRICENTRIC (24-5): Dan Wagner 3-4 0-1 9, Dailyn Swain 7-17 2-6 16, Josiah Smith 3-5 0-0 7, Preston Steele 6-9 1-2 13, Dyson Bibins 0-1 0-0 0, Laron Fuller 1-4 0-0 2, Mekhi Johnson 2-3 0-0 4. Totals: 22-43 3-9 51. 3-pt goals: Wagner 3-4, Swain 0-1, Smith 1-1, Bibins 0-1, Fuller 0-1. Rebounds: 7-O, 18-D = 25 (Swain 10) Team/deadball rebounds: 2. Assists: 9 (Swain 4, Wagner 2, Fuller 2). Steals: 4 (Swain 3, Bibins 1). Turnovers: 9. Blocks: 8 (Swain 4, Smith 2, Steele 2). Fous: 10. Fouled out: None.

FAIRLAND (20-6): Will Davis 1-2 0-0 2, Aiden Porter 8-20 6-6 23, J.D. Thacker 3-7 0-0 7, Chase Allen 0-6 1-2 1, Steeler Leep 0-1 2-2 2, Brycen Hunt 1-2 0-0 2, Brody Buchanan 2-5 0-0 6. Totals: 15-43 9-10 43. 3-pt goals: Davis 0-1, Porter 1-7, Thacker 1-1, Allen 0-2, Buchanan 2-5. Rebounds: 10-O, 18-D = 28 (Leep 5, Porter 4). Team/deadball rebounds: 8. Assists: 8 (Allen 4). Steals: 5 (Hunt 2, Porter 1, Leep 1, Buchanan 1). Blocks: None. Fouls: 12. Fouled out: None.