Updated Fri, Mar 7, 2014 11:20 pm
Fairland 58, Southeastern 56
Fairland’s Evan Maddox wasn’t at full strength as his Dragons took on Southeastern in the Division III district semifinals on Friday. Battling a back injury, Fairland’s leading scorer was limited, but as his circus jumpshot fell from outside the arc, Maddox swung momentum in the Dragon’s direction enabling them to erase a 14 point deficit and take down the Panthers to advance.
“I think when it’s all on the line, and these guys have been here the last three years, they know you can’t hold anything back. It’s not the time of year to do that,” Fairland coach Nathan Speed said. “I think they saw Evan hurting. He’s a senior. They didn’t want him to go out like that.
Maddox’s three came with just over four minutes in the game and put the Dragons within two of Southeastern. After his heave fell, Southeastern rallied off six-straight points taking their first lead in the game since the first quarter.
“We knew they were a good team and play hard. That’s why they’ve won what they’ve won and only lost four games. They bust their butts and we didn’t meet that challenge,” Speed said. “At halftime we challenged them. Stop being soft. Soft being weak. It’s just ugly.”
Trailing by five, Southeastern’s Austin Hice hit a three with seven seconds left that cut the deficit to two but a Justin Dye three rimmed out at the buzzer giving Fariland the 58-56 victory.
“All those guys just show a lot of heart,” Speed said. “It was just fun to watch.”
With Maddox ailing and only finishing with nine points, junior Chance Short took control of the game scoring 21. Junior guard Nathan Campbell joined him in double figures with ten points and seven rebounds.
“This year, [Chance’s] gotten more and more mentally tough,” Speed said of the junior. “I think he realized with Evan hurt he’s going to have to carry the load a little more offensively and look to attack. I think once he calmed down, he just went out and played hard and it came to him.
Hice and junior Tyler Cartee led Southeastern on the night with 17 points.
Fairland has won five district titles with their last coming in 2008. Speed’s squad will be looking for title No. 6 on Sunday with a finals showdown against Wheelersburg.
Wheelersburg 57, Chesapeake 52
Wheelersburg continued a tradition of winning at the Convocation Center with a 57-52 win over Chesapeake. The Pirates improved to 33-9 all time at the Roundhouse on Richland with a chance at another win in the district finals on Sunday.
The win was Wheelersburg head coach Steven Ater’s first win at the Convo as his Pirates are one win away from the program’s 18th district title.
“You really have to talk about the coaches before us. They built this program,” Ater said. “It’s been a proud program with a ton of tradition and I’m proud to be a part of it. Now I’ve added one to it.”
The Pirates never trailed from the start behind a double-double from Dylan Miller. The senior led all scorers with 20 points and corralled in ten boards.
“He’s a guy who kind of put us on his back early and I think when he hit some shots early it’s like everybody settled in and just started playing,” Ater said. “When you’re senior leader answers the bell like that you’re going to do well most nights.”
Chesapeake went on a run to start the fourth that put them within two of the Pirates but back-to-back threes from Miller and J.D. WIttig hushed the comeback attempt. Widdig scored 16 points making him one of three Pirates in double-figures.
“Our kids did a good job keeping their heads,” Ater said. “We had a long layoff, 13 days since we had played. We did everything mentally and physically we needed to.”
Caleb Heffner led the Panthers in the loss going for 13 points and five rebounds.
Wheelersburg advances to face Fairland, who earlier this season they defeated 69-60.
“Teams are different at this time of this year,” Ater said. “We just kept telling our kids all year keep getting better every day and now we have a chance to go to the Sweet 16.”
Tip from the Convocation Center is set for Sunday at 2:00 p.m. from the Convocation Center.
Photos from Friday's action at the Convo by WOUB's Nick Bolin: