PROCTORVILLE — Clayton Thomas nailed a three-point shot with 5:35 left to play to break a 42-42 tie and that basket propelled Fairland to a closing 17-1 run to spark them to a 59-43 victory over rival Chesapeake at the packed Carl York Center on Tuesday night.
The Dragons are now 10-1 and on top in the Ohio Valley Conference at 5-0. For the Panthers (8-1, 4-1), it was their first loss.
“The defense picked it up,” Fairland coach Nathan Speed said of team’s play the last half of the final quarter. “A great effort. That team averages a lot of points.”
The 43 points are a season low for Chesapeake. Fairland outscored the Panthers 22-6 in the final eight minutes.
Nathan Cox made one of two free throws with 4:55 left to cut the deficit to 45-43. That’s the final point the Panthers had.
Jacob Polcyn scored at 4:11 to make it 47-43 for the Dragons. After the Panthers missed the front end of a one-and-one, Jordan Williams scored on a follow shot at 2:12 and Thomas nailed one from behind the arc to make it 52-43 with 1:59 left and caused Chesapeake to call timeout. After a miss and turnover by the Panthers, Aiden Porter made two free throws, made a basket, Thomas canned two free throws and Porter one of two to set the final margin.
Thomas finished with 25 points, 21 coming on seven 3s. He made all four of his free throws. Polcyn added 12 points and Porter 10.
Levi Blankenship led Chesapeake with 13 points.
“Down the stretch, the whole game, we want Clayton to have the ball,” Speed said. “He makes plays, makes free throws, hit the other guys open. Did well on defense, too. The threes run in the Thomas family (Luke, now at Marshall had the long range ball). If they’re open, they always have the green light.”
Fairland’s first burst came at the start as the Dragons opened a 10-3 lead with 3:50 left in the first period. From that point, the Panthers battled back. It was 37-37 entering the fourth period.
“They’re a good team,” Speed said of the Panthers. “They’re quick. We did a good job with fundamentals and didn’t leave our feet.”
Chesapeake’s known for its press, but the Dragons handled the heat well.
“We worked on the press,” Speed said. “Do not get in a hurry. We handled it. In half-court, we could’ve finished more, but didn’t.”
Williams turned into a force in the paint for the Dragons, especially in the second half. Fairland’s stat crew had him for 15 rebounds.
“He picked things up,” Speed said. “He altered some shots, had a few blocks. Polcyn hit some big shots for us. He would finish around the rim.”
Both teams return to OVC play Friday. Rock Hill visits Fairland and Gallia Academy is at Chesapeake.
CHESAPEAKE 11 9 37 6 — 43: Grim 3, N. Cox 9, Blankenship 13, Caldwell 3, Jackson 6, Dearth 6, J. Cox 3.
FAIRLAND 16 10 11 22 — 59: Polcyn 12, Porter 10, Hunt 2, Thomas 25, Williams 7, Schmitt 1, Taylor 2.