Lovely’s buzzer-beater lifts Pointers over Dragons in district semi-finals

Published 11:09 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2023

South Point Pointers’ Caleb Lovely (0) takes aim as he hits a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Fairland Dragons 48-46 in the Division 3 district semi-finals on Wednesday. (Tim Gearhart Sports Photo for The Ironton Tribune)


South Point Pointers’ Xander Dornon (right) grabs a rebound away from a Fairland Dragons’ player during Wednesday’s Division 3 district semi-final game. South Point won 48-46. (Tim Gearhart Sports Photo for The Ironton Tribune)


Fairland Dragons’ J.D. Thacker (left) shoots over South Point Pointers’ Xander Dornon during Wednesday’s Division 3 district semi-final game. South Point won 48-46. (Tim Gearhart Sports Photo for The Ironton Tribune)


Fairland Dragons’ Will Davis (0) pulls down a rebound during Wednesday’s Division 3 district semi-final game against the South Point Pointer. The Pointers won 48-46. (Tim Gearhart Sports Photo for The Ironton Tribune)

By Jim Walker

IRONTON — Caleb Lovely might want to think about applying for Dancing With The Stars.

With South Point trailing 46-45 and just 5 seconds on the clock, Lovely caught the ball with 2 seconds left, turned away from the defender in a spin move, took one step and launched a 23-footer.


Lovely’s 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded lifted the Pointers to a 48-46 win over the Fairland Dragons in the Division 3 district semi-finals Wednesday at the Ironton Harold Conley Sports Center.

“He instinctively turned and that was the key. When he shot it I knew it had a good chance of going in and by golly it did,” said Pointers coach Travis Wise.

“These kids just have big hearts. They just find a way to win. They’re fun to coach. It’s just a good group.”

Fairland’s Chase Allen made an outstanding shot of his own to give the Dragons a 46-45 lead with 5.5 seconds left. Despite tight defensive by Elijah Wilburn, Allen turned and hit a 17-footer from the right wing.

“I told Wilburn you did nothing wrong. You played great defense. He just made a tough shot,” said Wise.

South Point beat Fairland twice in the regular season but Wise said that made the Dragons even more dangerous. The Dragons beat the Pointers in the district tournament in both 2017 and 2022.

“It’s tough to beat someone three times in one season. They’ve been a thorn in our side for years,” said Wise. “That was a good win. That felt good.”

South Point (20-4) will play Zane Trace at 6 p.m. on Sunday at the Ohio University Convocation Center. Zane Trace beat Wheelersburg 53-39.

The game changed hands 12 times and was tied on seven occasions. Fairland led 10-9 are the first quarter, South Point was up 19-17 at the half and the game was tied after three quarters.

South Point had a 5-point lead twice at 5-0 and 22-17 to begin the second half following a 3-pointer by Carter Smith. Fairland’s biggest lead was 28-24 in the third quarter after a putback by J.D. Thacker and a layup by Allen at the 4:51 mark.

Jordan Ermalovich hit a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter and give the Pointers a 36-33 lead. But Allen’s 3-point play tied the score and then he had another free throw and a 15-footer to make it 39-36.

Carter Smith hit a 3-pointer and Lovely two foul shots and it was 41-39. J.D. Thacker’s basket tied the game, Ermalovich’s trifecta put the Pointers back on top only to have Brody Buchanan hit a 3-pointer with 1:54 t play and it was 44-43.

Lovely answered and it was 45-44 but Allen scored as Fairland took the lead to set up Lovely’s game-winning shot.

“Carter and Jordan hit big 3s in the fourth. Carter started clicking about four or five games ago. He’s athletic and his confidence level is really up,” said Wise.

Lovely finished with 18 points and Smith scored 13.

Fairland (16-9) was led by Allen with 18 and Thacker scored 13.

Fairland   10 7 16 13 = 46

South Point 9 10 14 15 = 48

FAIRLAND (16-9): Will Davis 1 0 0-1 2, Chase Allen 6 0 6-9 18, J.D. Thacker 2 2 3-4 13, Steeler Leep 3 0 0-0 6, Brody Buchanan 2 1 0-0 7, Zion Martin 0 0 0-0 0, Keegan Smith 0 0 0-0 0, Noah Marcum 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-42 9-14 46. 3-pt goals: 3-11. Rebounds: 5-O, 20-D = 25 (Thacker 5, Buchanan 4, Davis 4). Team/deadball rebounds: 3. Assists: 7 (Allen 5). Steals: 2 (Buchanan, Allen). Turnovers: 8. Fouls: 9. Fouled out: None.

SOUTH POINT (20-4): Caleb Lovely 6 2 2-2 18, Carter Smith 2 3 0-1 13, Jaxon Vance 1 0 0-0 2, Jordan Ermalovich 2 1 0-0 7, Xander Dornon 0 0 0-0 0, Xathan Haney 2 0 0-0 4, Jackson Childers 4 0 0-0 4. Totals: 20-42 2-3 48. 3-pt goals: 6-18. Rebounds: 11-O, 12-D = 23 (Dornon 4, Lovely 4). Team/deadball rebounds: 2. Assists: 8 (Ermalovich 4). Steals: 4 (Ermalovich 3). Turnovers: 6. Fouls: 10. Fouled out: None.