PEDRO – Had the entire sectional tournament game between the Valley Lady Indians and the Fairland Dragons gone the same way as the last several minutes of the first quarter, then Mark Merritt’s squad would be much happier. Unfortunately for the Lady Indians the entire game did not go their way, as they were soundly defeated by the Lady Dragons.
Valley entered the game, played at Rock Hill High School, as the number six seed, and underdog to the number two seeded Fairland. The Lady Indians were not able to pull off the upset, falling to the Lady Dragons 62-29.
The first quarter started off all Fairland. The Lady Indians were held to a single point until 3:45 remaining in the first quarter when Kamryn Conaway hit a jumper to cut the 8-1 Fairland lead to 8-3.
Fairland would score two more points in the quarter while Valley continued to fight back and end the quarter with a 10-10 tie.
The last few minutes of the first quarter led many to believe the Lady Indians just might pull off the upset against the Lady Dragons.
The second quarter put an end to the possibility though.
Fairland came out on a roll in the second. They started off on a quick 6-0 run, jumping to a 16-10 lead.
The scoring spree continued for the Lady Dragons.
After a pair of threes by Fairland’s Chapman, and then a steal and layup by Fulton, the Lady Dragons jumped up to a 24-10 lead, with 2:04 left in the second quarter.
The trend would continue for Fairland much to the chagrin of Valley, until the end of the second quarter, where the Dragons went on a 22-0 run during the period.
Valley was held scoreless in the second, unable to hit a field goal, while also going 0-6 from the free throw line.
Dreams of defeating Fairland began to quickly fade for the Valley Lady Indians and their fans. At halftime, the deficit had grown to 22 points, 32-10.
Fairland’s run continued into the third quarter. After their 22-0 run in the second quarter, the Lady Dragons would add another five points before Conaway would hit a pair of free throws to end the 27-0 run.
Valley added an additional eight points in the third quarter, and continued to trail Fairland 49-20 at the end of the third quarter.
The Lady Dragons added 13 more points in the fourth quarter, while the Lady Indians were held to only nine more points. In the end, Fairland soundly defeated Valley 62-29.
“We knew we were going to have to handle the pressure,” Merritt said. “In the first quarter, we did a great job of handling the pressure. We had a long time to prepare, but it just seemed like every time we’d get a little lead, and get a nice little look at a pass we weren’t checking the floor, and they were coming behind us and picking us.”
Merritt said turnovers were a big key in the game, and his team was committing far too many turnovers to compete in any basketball game.
“We simply didn’t have enough for Fairland tonight,” Merritt said.
Those few minutes in the first quarter had a lot of positives for the Lady Indians.
“Some of the things going right for us, we were making some solid passes to the elbows and blocks,” Merritt said. “We had some good looks. I wasn’t too worried about it, because we weren’t turning the ball over too many times.”
Unfortunately Valley did begin to turn the ball over, to the amount of 12 turnovers in the first half.
“If you turn the ball over 12 times against Fairland, they’re going to score on about eight of them,” Merritt said. “Again our scouting report was to not leave Chapman, and we left her wide open for four great looks, and she put them in.”
The Lady Indians will say goodbye to three seniors, Kacie Hickerson, Megan Duduit, and Kamryn Conaway.
“My three seniors played and started every game this year,” Merritt said. “They’ve been with this program for four years. Megan was a four year starter on varsity, Kam was three years, and Kacie was a two or three years. They’re going to be sorely missed.”
Merritt said it’s always disheartening to lose seniors, but he knows there will be great things to come from this year’s group.
“They’re such quality kids, they’re going to be successful in whatever they do,” Merritt said.
Fairland – Chapman 7-0-20, Marshall 5-0-11, Perry 2-2-6, Wagner 3-0-6, Fulton 2-1-5, McKinney 2-0-5, Wilson 2-0-4, Fuller 2-0-4, Warnock 0-1-1
Valley- Conaway 6-4-16, Conley 1-2-4, Duduit 1-0-3, Hickerson 1-0-2, Wright 1-0-2, Howard 1-0-2
Three-point field goals – Fairland 3 (Marshall, Chapman, McKinney) Valley 1 (Duduit)
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.