Cold-shooting Lady Dragons fall to Northwest in D2 state semi-finals

Published 5:26 pm Thursday, March 9, 2023

Fairland Lady Dragons’ point guard Tomi Hinkle (left) drives past a Northwest Lady Indians defender during Thursday’s Division 2 state semi-final game. (Photo Courtesy of Katie Keeney)


Fairland Lady Dragons’ Bree Allen (left) drives down the lane against a Northwest Lady Indians’ defender during Thursday’s Division 2 state semi-final game at the University of Dayton Arena. (Photo Courtesy of Katie Keeney)


Fairland Lady Dragons’ Kamryn Barnitz (24) makes her way toward the basket for a layup during Thursday’s Division 2 state semi-final game against Canal Fulton Northwest. (Photo Courtesy of Katie Keeney)

By Jim Walker

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DAYTON — Sometimes when things go bad, they really go bad.

Bad things began early in the game for Fairland and then just snowballed the rest of the way as the Lady Dragons lost to the Canal Fulton Northwest Lady Indians 56-34 in the Division 2 state semi-finals on Thursday at the University of Dayton Arena.

Fairland led 14-13 at the end of the first quarter but had only made 5-of-13 shots including 1-of-5 from behind the arc.

It only got worse.

The Lady Dragons were 2-of-13 from the floor in the second quarter, 0-of-5 from 3-point range and missed all four free throw attempts as they fell behind 29-18 at the half.

For the game, Fairland was 14-of-50 from the field for a cold 28 percent. In what is usually a strong point, the Lady Dragons were a mere 2-of-17 from the 3-point line for 11.9 percent. It wasn’t any better at the foul line as they made 4-of-14 shots.

“I know there’s going to be questions about the shooting. We shot the ball really poorly, but they out-played us. I don’t think it came down to shooting as much. We just didn’t play very well,” said Fairland coach Jon Buchanan.

Northwest was 25-of-47 from the floor for 53 percent and outscored Fairland 42-20 in the paint. The Lady Indians were 1-of-5 from 3-point range.

“We couldn’t speed them up. They had longer possessions. We just didn’t make them when we had (the opportunities). I was impressed with their defense. They made it tough for us. We just didn’t have it on the offensive end. Defensively, I don’t think we’re as terrible as we started. We tried to make things happen,” said Buchanan.

“We didn’t do anything right today. They got out on us and we couldn’t get a lot of attempts and they contested our shots. We didn’t get the number of attempts we wanted.”

Northwest (27-2) will face Cincinnati Purcell Marian at 10:45 a.m. Saturday in the state championship game. Purcell Marian is led by Ms. Basketball Dee Alexander who had 14 points in a 61-47 win over Bryan in Thursday’s first game.

“We want to press and run. That’s my M.O. But we play teams I think are a little better at that in the tournament we’ve slowed it down and took our time. We can do both.  We can play half court, we can play full court,” said Northwest coach Kevin Lower.

“I’m not a one defense guy, a one offense guy. It’s a testament to our girls to be able to pick up on so many defenses. Whatever we can do to take away the other team we’ll do it.”

Ashley Cudnik scored a game-high 16 points to lead Northwest. Loyola Maryland recruit Lily Bottomley had 13 points and 13 rebounds despite sitting out most of the first quarter in foul trouble.

Bailey Russell scored 9 points and Kylee Bruce had 6 points and 5 rebounds as Fairland finished 27-1. The win total was a single-season school record.

The lead changed hands five times in the first quarter including a layup by Bree Allen with 22 seconds on the clock that gave Fairland a 14-13 lead.

Russell may a layup to start the second quarter and give Fairland a 16-13 lead.

But Bottomley returned and scored inside and Delanie Carmony hit a 3-pointer as the 5:26 mark and Northwest took the lead for good at 18-15.

A 3-point play by Ashlyn Stark, a layup by Gwen Lower and an 18-footer at the buzzer by Carmony opened up a 29-18 game a the half as Fairland managed just 4 points.

“We just couldn’t run a play. We couldn’t execute anything. I don’t know if we didn’t do a good job of preparing them. We just really struggled. We usually execute at a high level but today we struggled,” said Buchanan.

Russell had back-to-back layups was Fairland drew within 29-22 to start the second half. But Cudnik followed up her own miss to stop the run and Northwest outscored Fairland 16-7 the rest of the quarter and it was 42-29.

A layup by Lower made it 51-31 with 4:16 to play and Northwest had its biggest lead at 56-33 on a putback by Bottomley with 2:02 left.

Fairland finished the season 27-1 and set a school record for wins. The Lady Dragons won the Ohio Valley Conference and reached their third Final Four after qualifying in 2014 and 2015.

Southeast District Player of the Year Tomi Hinkle finished her career with 7 points, 5 assists and 2 steals.

“I’m glad we made it here. I want to thank the the community for their support,” said a teary Hinkle. “I’ll miss Bree (Allen) and Reece (Barnitz) and the other girls. It’s been great.”

Fairland    14 4 11 5 = 34

Northwest 13 16 13 14 = 56

FAIRLAND (27-1): Reece Barnitz 0-3 0-0 0, Bree Allen 1-5 2-4 4, Tomi Hinkle 3-10 1-4 7, Kamryn Barnitz 1-6 0-0 2, Kylee Bruce 3-6 0-2 6, Addison Godby 2-9 0-2 5, Bailey Russell 4-10 0-0 9, Isa Taliaferro 0-1 1-2 1. Totals: 14-50 4-14 34. 3-pt goals: 2-17 (R. Barnitz 0-3, Allen 0-1, Hinkle 0-4, K. Barnitz 0-2, Bruce 0-1, Godby 1-2, Russell 1-4). Rebounds: 14-O, 15-D = 29 (Hinkle 6, Bruce 5, Godby 5, Russell 4). Team/deadball rebounds: 9. Assists: 8 (Hinkle 5, Allen 2, R. Barnitz 1). Steals: 8 (Hinkle 2, Bruce 2, Godby 2, Allen 1, R. Barnitz 1). Turnovers: 11. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: None.

CANAL FULTON NORTHWEST (27-2): Ashley Cudnik 8-18 0-0 16, Ashlyn Stark 3-6 1-3 7, Gianna Kuhn 2-2 1-1 5, Gwen Lower 3-8 0-0 6, Lily Bottomley 5-7 3-6 13, Delanie Carmon 4-6 0-0 9, Aubrey Meggyesy 0-0 0-0 0, Kendall Lower 0-0 0-0 0, Anika Okolish 0-0 0-0 0, Noelle Lovett 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-47 5-10 56. 3-pt goals: 1-5 (Carmon 1-3, Cudnik 0-2). Rebounds: 9-O, 28-D = 37 (Bottomley 13, Cudnik 7, Kuhn 7). Team/deadball rebounds: 6. Assists: 15 (Kuhn 5, Stark 4, Carmany 2). Steals: 4 (Cudnik, Stark, Kuhn, G. Lower 1 each). Turnovers: 13. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None.

Officials: Marilyn De Walt, Byron Edwards, Terry Bogard Time—1:16