Fairland earns share of OVC title
ROME TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Fairland didn’t do the impossible, but certainly pulled off the improbable.
The Dragons defeated Chesapeake, 61-40, in high school boys basketball Friday night at the Carl York Center and clinched at least a share of their fourth consecutive Ohio Valley Conference championship. Few, if anyone, picked Fairland to top the OVC after it graduated all five starters, all of whom went on to play in college after going unbeaten in conference play their last three seasons.
“We played against those guys in practice,” said Dragons’ sophomore guard Clayton Thomas, who scored a gamehigh 21 points and handed out five assists. “They’re all college athletes and playing against them helped us, especially on defense.”
Fairland (16-4 overall, 11-1 OVC) established its dominance early, as Clayton sandwiched two 3-pointers around a basket by Ian Chinn to give the Dragons an 8-0 lead and prompt a Panthers timeout.
Chesapeake (12-7, 5-7) pulled within 15-11 after Eli Archer’s basket to open the second quarter, but Fairland went on another 8-0 run as Chinn scored five and Thomas three to push the lead to double digits. The Panthers never moved closer than with eight and trailed 27-17 at halftime.
The Dragons used runs of 7-0 and 9-0 in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. Fairland led by as many as 28 before Chesapeake scored the final seven points.
Dragons coach Nathan Speed said he was happy with the victory, but tempered title talk.
“Let’s talk about it after the next two games,” said Speed, who has guided Fairland to a 53-1 league record the last four seasons.
The next two games are 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Portsmouth, and 7:30 p.m. Friday at home vs. Rock Hill. The Trojans are seventh and the Redmen eighth in the eight-team league.
The lone OVC team with a chance to catch Fairland is Ironton, (9-3 OVC), which defeated Coal Grove, 67-62, Friday. To tie, the Fighting Tigers need to win at Chesapeake on Saturday and at home against Portsmouth on Friday, as well as have the Dragons lose their remaining league games.
Fairland was its efficient, deliberate self moving the ball well and combining open layups with 11 3-pointers. Chinn scored 13, Jacob Polcyn had six points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
“We moved the ball very well and our spacing was excellent,” Speed said. “We were making the right decisions attacking their zone, hit the open guy, made the extra pass. This team is very unselfish and that carries over from last year. They don’t care who scores.”
Speed said he was equally as happy with his team’s defense.
“We didn’t leave our feet and our rotations were excellent,” Speed said. “This came against a very good team. They’ve improved tremendously over the course of the year.”
Archer, Levi Blankenship and Austin Jackson scored eight apiece to lead the Panthers.
CHESAPEAKE 9 8 8 15 — 40: Walsh 2, Grim 2, N. Cox 6, Blankenship 8, Schmidt 2, Jackson 8, J. Cox 2, Hutchison 2, Archer 8. FAIRLAND 15 12 21 13 — 61: Polcyn 6, Porter 9, Hunt 5, Mondlak 7, Chinn 13, Thomas 21.