Fairland finds new inspiration for win
PROCTORVILLE, Ohio -- The Fairland girls basketball team had to turn to its bench Tuesday afternoon some four hours before the ball went up in the air for its season opener.
Lady Dragons head coach Jon Buchanan's father was at St. Mary's Medical Center in Huntington and he informed assistant coach Adam Alt in the afternoon that he'd be directing the team against Greenup County.
That left the players with heavy hearts as they thought about their coach's severely ill father. Yet they kept their focus and behind a 30-point, 19-rebound effort from junior Terra Stapleton, the Lady Dragons rolled to an 84-54 victory.
"Coach (Buchanan) called and said you got it," Alt said of learning he would be head coach for a night. "You know what to do. Our philosophy is the same, so we were OK."
"It was kind of traumatic," said Stapleton, a 6-foot-4 center who's made a verbal commitment to Big 10 member Minnesota. "We all know his (coach's) spirit was with us. We could feel it. We all knew how he would want us to play. If we didn't, we'd hear about it."
The Lady Musketeers (0-1) tried to press Fairland, but the Lady Dragons time and again made quick passes to beat the pressure and open the floor for easy baskets. Stapleton was the beneficiary several times and finished the first quarter with 14 points.
"We beat the press, got rebounds and got out and ran," Alt said. "That's supposed to be Greenup County's MO. We beat them at their game."
Fairland led 28-11 after the first period. Haley Woodall's basket with 7:03 left in the second period extended the lead to 23 at 34-11. Greenup County then scored nine straight points, the last five from Destiny Jones on a long three-pointer and then a more routine jumper to get within 34-20.
Fairland responded with a 10-0 run to get the lead back to 44-23 and the home team cruised in from there. Alt was able to go to his bench often in both halves.
"One thing I can say is we turned the ball over too much," Alt said. "They are a three-point shooting team and we frustrated them. We got them off their game."
The Lady Musketeers finished with six baskets behind the arc.
Fairland's next game is Thursday at Meigs. Greenup County has its home opener that night against Mason County.
Kayle Swiger added 11 points and Chandler Fulks 10 for Fairland. All 14 players on the roster saw action and scored.
With 6:46 left in the game, Buchanan entered the gym and took a seat on the Fairland bench. There were smiles and tears from the players.
"All the faces got brighter," Stapleton said. "We'll keep him in our prayers."
Stapleton, who blocked five shots, had a cause for concern with 1:19 left in the opening period. She grabbed a rebound, but turned hard and caught Katie Thompson with an elbow to the chest for an offensive foul.
"It was a spur of the moment thing," Stapleton said. "I felt bad. I have to keep my cool."
Alt has told Stapleton she'll encounter rough play during the season.
"Teams will do everything they can to get in her head," Alt said. "When you get in a situation like that, you have to stay calm. She got through it the second time. She has to mature."
Jones led Greenup County with 15 points and Micah Leslie added 12.
GREENUP COUNTY 11 4 13 16 -- 54: Leslie 12, Webb 5, Jones 15, Burton 2, Pope 4, Campbell 4, Steele 2, Thompson 4, Vanlandingham 1, Moore 3, Adams 2.
FAIRLAND 28 23 16 17 -- 84: Woodall 7, Stapleton 30, Staten 1, Swiger 11, Morris 1, Dickess 4, C. Fulks 10, M. Riley 6, Chaffin 2, K. Riley 4, Stone 2, Perry 3, Lewis 1, J. Fulks 2.