Archived Story

Ironton has history of scorers

Published 1:39am Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It’s been quite an eventful season for Ironton Fighting Tigers’ senior guard Zac Carter.

A few weeks ago, Carter broke the school’s all-time scoring record of another great scorer, Dennis Gagai.

Carter also scored 40 points in a 75-73 loss to Coral Reef, Fla., earlier this season during the Orange Bowl Classic held during the Christmas break, and his point total included seven 3-point goals. The 3-point goal total tied the school record held by Ty Barnes.

Barnes not only set the record for most 3-pointers in a game, he did it during the game in which he broke the single-game scoring record with 51 points.

The record-setting game came in a lopsided win against Portsmouth West. It broke the previous record set by Ralph Snead.

One key factor concerning Snead’s record was the absence of the 3-point line. Snead shot the ball from beyond the arc all night and scored 45 points. Without the 3-point line, Barnes would have had 44 points.

Still, all three players are outstanding talents. They are similar in some ways, but different in many others.

Carter is the shortest, but he uses his speed and quickness to get to the basket, then does a series of twists and turns to get off his shot against the taller players. It’s like someone combined a cheetah and a snake they way his speed gets him to the basket where he uses his ability to slither in and out.

Despite his diminutive 5-foot-9 frame, Carter can dunk the ball and he also exhibits great defensive skills.

Barnes may very well be the best offensive player I’ve seen in this area. He could take anyone off the dribble, elevate and hit a shot.

I remember he drove the lane in one game and was surrounded by defenders. In a quick and smooth move, the 6-foot-2 Barnes went straight up and dunk the ball. It was so quick I actually thought, “Did he just dunk it? Yeah, he just dunked it.”

Barnes was the National Christian College Athletic Association Player of the Year at Kentucky Christian University when he led the team to the National Championship.

Playing in the North/South All-Star Game, Barnes’s offensive skills impressed coaches from St. Bonaventure and Coastal Carolina so much that they offered him a scholarship.

After college, Barnes went to play a year professionally in Australia. Ty also played in the Huntington summer league along with brothers Eric and Chris. It was nothing for Barnes’ team to light it up against other teams including the players from Marshall University.

I never saw Snead play until he was about 40 years old. Every once in a while he would make his way over to the Central School playground. He’d play a two-on-two or three-on-three game. Snead made sure he had a rebounder and then he would take care of the rest.

One of the best athletes to have played at Ironton, Snead could use his left hand as well as his right and he could take players off the dribble as well going either direction. The young guys would lick their chops as the game began, but when it was over Ralph had them begging for a rematch.

Ralph would just tell them he had enough and maybe he’d give them another chance some other day.

People don’t realize Ralph went to Ohio University and was the team’s leading scorer as a freshman. But he didn’t care for school and he told me that playing forward at 5-11 against 6-8 guys was no fun in practice or games, so he quit and came home to find a job.

Despite professional offers, Ralph was content to work and live in Ironton.

Now, there have been a lot of other great players who can shoot. If there had been a 3-point line, Charlie Kitchen might have the school record. Charlie never met a shot he didn’t like.

And while Charlie was known for his deadly shooting eye, he actually holds the school record for career rebounds. I would guess a lot of those were offensive rebounds so he would get another chance to shoot.

I don’t want to forget Mark Fields — a current school board member —who played in the pivot and dropped in 40 points against Wellston.

Ty Davis was one of the most athletic offensive players and he could flat shoot. I never saw his father play, but there have been a lot of comparison between Ty and Otis.

And let’s not forget the other Davis, Marq, who bested dad and brother by becoming a 1,000-point scorer.

Speaking of fathers and sons, current Ironton forward Trey Fletcher is somewhat an opposite talent compared to father Joe.

Besides being 6-6 to dad’s 6-3, Trey can step outside and drain the 3-pointer as well and use his size to score inside.

I remember watching Bubby Fletcher play and he set up shop on the low block and he’d back into a defender, give a head fake or two, and then finish. He was a scoring machine and he was one of those players who wanted the ball in a pressure situation.

The list of scorers can go on and on such as Joe Leith, Steve Bartram, Mark Ferguson, Jim Rodehaver, Keith Stowers, and the duo of Danny Pride and Coy Bacon.

Pride and Bacon’s team lost twice in the regular season in 1961. The losses were by one point to Ashland and Portsmouth and both those teams won state championships that season.

Records are something nice to talk about and they can be a goal for players. But the real fun is watching them play.

With the district tournament this weekend, go watch some players play, including Carter and Fletcher. It should be a lot of fun.

– Sinatra –

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.


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