Dragons run away from Blue Devils

By Paul Boggs - pboggs@civitasmedia.com

Gallia Academy senior Dondre Armstrong drives to the basket and by Fairland’s Chase Fisher during Friday night’s Ohio Valley Conference boys basketball game at Gallia Academy High School.

Paul Boggs/OVP Sports

CENTENARY, Ohio — Unfortunately for Gallia Academy, Friday the 13th was unkind to these Devils.

That’s because the visiting Fairland Dragons, ranked ninth in the Associated Press Division III statewide poll, rallied back from an early seven-point deficit — en route to rolling the Blue Devils 75-48 on Friday night in an Ohio Valley Conference boys basketball tilt.

In downing the Blue Devils after being down early, the Dragons dialed in for 11 three-point goals —all without their six-foot, eight-inch standout center Kollin Van Horn.

Fairland led for the final 20-and-a-half minutes — spearheaded by outscoring Gallia Academy 25-9 in the tide-turning second quarter.

The onslaught continued in the second half, when the Dragons outpointed the Blue Devils 16-9 in the third frame —before finally amassing 23 more points in the fourth.

Fairland’s largest margin was with 1:23 remaining — at 70-42 thanks to Ty Staten splitting a pair of free throws.

With the win, the Dragons raised their record to 10-1 — and remain atop the OVC at a perfect 5-0.

Gallia Academy dipped to 6-4 — and 3-2 in the league.

In playing extremely well for the final 28 minutes and 20 seconds, and after missing their first 10 shot attempts and 12 of their first 13, the Dragons drilled 29-of-65 (45-percent) field-goal attempts —and forced 25 Blue Devil turnovers and committed only eight.

As the Dragons reversed their early course, Gallia Academy possessions resulted in turnovers and transition points the other way —often from behind the three-point line.

“That’s what hurt us. A lot of it wasn’t necessarily throwing the ball away…four times we got rebounds and just threw it right to them. We were just anxious to get out and run, but I didn’t want to run on these guys tonight. Just fundamental things like that,” said Gallia Academy coach Gary Harrison. “They made some threes to get on their run, and we didn’t post the ball or really execute our gameplan. But Fairland is a really good team. They are ninth in the state for a reason. And they live and die by the three.”

On Friday night, the 13th in fact, the Dragons lived.

Fairland finished with 11 three-balls — four by Luke Thomas and three apiece by Isaiah Howell and Gunner Short.

Thomas with 20 points, Howell with 19, and Short with 17 combined for 56 of the Dragons’ 75.

Thomas tallied eight total field goals, Howell seven and 2-of-2 free throws, and Short five and 4-of-4 foul shots.

And, even without Van Horn —who suffered a broken nose in practice and is expected to miss at least three weeks —the Dragons didn’t allow the Blue Devils’ size to make a major impact.

Justin Peck — Gallia Academy’s 6-5 senior forward — scored 16 points on seven field goals and 2-of-4 free throws, but was saddled with foul trouble and picked up his fourth only two-and-a-half minutes into the third.

Zach Loveday, the Blue and White’s 6-11 freshman center, only amounted a third-quarter field goal.

Both big Blue Devils grabbed nine rebounds apiece, but were neutralized on Friday night overall.

“Fairland played really well. We had two bigs, but we didn’t post and they did a good job on our bigs. I thought we could have done a better job of controlling the game if we would have posted it better, or if we could have gone on a big run really early in that first quarter. But we didn’t do either of those,” said Harrison. “We’re still young, we’re still learning, and we’re still at that point of where we are jelling together.”

Conversely, the Dragons are a veteran club capable of overcoming a slow start.

Gallia Academy, in the opening 4:25, posted the first seven points —before Kedrick Cunningham got Fairland on the board just 15 seconds later.

The Blue Devils did lead at 9-2, but the Dragons closed the quarter on a 9-4 burst.

Fairland kept extending its advantage once it captured the lead, which occurred with four-and-a-half minutes left in the second period — when Cunningham converted an old-fashioned three-point play off a steal to make it 21-20.

In the final 4:40 of the first half, the Dragons reeled off an 18-2 run — which was only interrupted at the 3:11 mark by a Cory Call field goal for Gallia Academy.

That made the score 24-22 in favor of Fairland, as the Dragons then scored the final dozen points of the half — punctuated by Short swishing a corner-pocket three-pointer at the buzzer.

Loveday ended the Blue Devils’ epic drought — which spanned exactly six minutes and 25 seconds.

Fairland then led by 18 points (42-24, 44-26 and 47-29) three times —before Short scored, stole a pass, and bagged a another trifecta for a 52-29 advantage.

“The past couple of games, we had it down to 12 or 13 turnovers. But when you have 25 turnovers, you’re not going to be in many games,” said Harrison. “And we didn’t rebound very well. I thought a lot of times, they got to the loose balls instead of us. Just things we have to get better at. I think as a young team, we will.”

Call, on five total field goals and a split of two freebies, collected a dozen points.

Justin McClelland made three field goals and a pair of foul shots for nine, while Miles Cornwell canned a pair of treys.

McClelland, Call and Dondre Armstrong all made a three apiece.

The Dragons held a 29-19 advantage in total field goals.

Gallia Academy returns to action on Tuesday night — when it makes the short trip to non-league rival River Valley.

Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106

Gallia Academy senior Dondre Armstrong drives to the basket and by Fairland’s Chase Fisher during Friday night’s Ohio Valley Conference boys basketball game at Gallia Academy High School.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/01/web1_1.15-GA-Armstrong.jpgGallia Academy senior Dondre Armstrong drives to the basket and by Fairland’s Chase Fisher during Friday night’s Ohio Valley Conference boys basketball game at Gallia Academy High School. Paul Boggs/OVP Sports

By Paul Boggs



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