ATHENS – The Dragons of Fairland High School used a 16-8 third quarter to break a halftime tie against Ironton Saturday night which spurred Fairland to a 68-61 win. The victory gave the Dragons the right to climb the ladder and cut down the Convo nets. Following the nightcap, the ladder belonged to Wheelersburg as the Pirates got a big time performance from its District player of the year, Drew Spradlin. The senior forward scored 25 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and dished out five assists to lead the Pirates to a 61-47 win over the Huntington Huntsmen.
Huntington’s Josh Kellough scored 22 of his game-high 26 points through the first three quarters to have his Huntsmen trailing only 39-34 entering the game’s final quarter. The game remained close through the first four minutes of the final stanza, but at the four-minute mark the game’s momentum changed on an unfortunate dead ball situation.
The score was 45-40 in favor of Wheelersburg when Kellough looked to hit a slashing Corey Cottrill during a secondary break opportunity. While receiving the pass, Cottrill jumped into the air as a Wheelersburg defender moved into position to take a charge. The baseline official was faced with the bang-bang call and the end result was a charge. Seconds later, the trail official hit Huntington head coach Rick Uhrig with a technical foul.
By the time the situation played out, what could have been a free throw chance for Cottrill to trim the ‘Burg lead to three ended up being a Matt Jenkins free throw and then a pair of free throws from Andy Stegman on the ensuing possession to stretch the lead to 48-40. Following a Huntington miss, Spradlin sliced through the Huntington defense in transition and dropped a beautiful no-look bounce pass to Matt Stegman to stretch the Wheelersburg lead to double-digits.
The Pirates would finish the job at the free throw line connecting on 12 of 16 during the game’s final period. Overall the ‘Burg was 18-25 from the line while Huntington shot only six of 12 from the charity stripe.
With Kellough and Spradlin offsetting one another with big scoring nights, the difference was the Wheelersburg balance. The Pirates got 11 points and 11 boards from freshman Andy Stegman while senior brother Matt also scored 11 and pulled down eight boards. On the other hand, Huntington did not have another player in double-figures as Cottrill ended with eight points. Huntington’s second leading scorer Justin Kellough scored only four points. The senior forward scored both of his buckets in the early going before a night of foul trouble set in for him. Justin played only 16 minutes Saturday night before fouling out of his final career game.
The Scioto Valley Conference champion Huntsmen end their outstanding season at 20-3. For Coach Tom Barrick’s Southern Ohio Conference champion Pirates, the win improves them to 21-2 and they will return to the Convo Wednesday night at 6:15 to face Columbus Bishop Ready in the regional semifinal.
The nightcap on Wednesday will have Fairland taking on Sugarcreek Garaway. Fairland, now 19-5, got another huge game from its frontline of Dustin Bumgardner and Michael Lamb. This duo was also complemented well by the hot outside shooting of Chris Ward. The Dragon trio combined for nearly three-fourths of the Dragons offensive production in Saturday’s championship win over Ironton. The loss gives the Fighting Tigers a 13-10 record and a district runner-up finish to their season.