State BoundPublished 1:43am Sunday, March 17, 2013
ATHENS — Ironton’s first goal this season was to win the regional tournament. Their second goal was to win the state championship.
One down, one to go.
Ironton used a strong second half and the combined efforts of Zac Carter and Trevor White to beat the Oak Hill Oaks 66-49 to win the Division III regional championship Saturday at Ohio University’s Convocation Center.
Ironton (23-2) will play Ottawa-Glandorf at 10:45 a.m. Thursday in the state semifinals at the Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State University.
Ottawa-Glandorf beat Bloom-Carroll 60-56 in overtime.
“I flat told them early before the season — I don’t remember just when — if we don’t win the regional and make the state tournament, we’ve failed. We’re not failures, we just failed in our goal. Now, what are we going to do about it?” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon.
“To the man, we embraced it. To have a group like this and not go to the state tournament would be a disappointment. This group of seniors let me challenge them and I sure challenged them.”
LaFon was referring to his senior group of Carter, White, Trey Fletcher, Josh Glover, Darrius Boykin, Aaron Stephens and Jalen Schweickart.
Carter scored 34 points — 24 in the second half — and White had 14 points and 12 rebounds to compensate for the absence of second-leading scorer Fletcher, who sat out much of the game in foul trouble.
“One guy who stepped up — Lordy be — Trevor White. If he didn’t save us, I don’t know what would have happened,” said LaFon.
White said the team didn’t panic when Fletcher went out. Plus, he knew Ironton had an ace in the hole with Carter.
“I just had to pick it up,” said White. “I’ve seen (Zac) do that all my life. I played AAU ball with him. He doesn’t like to lose.”
Ironton has two previous trips to the Final Four in 1994 and 2005, the latter when the Fighting Tigers finished as state runners-up.
There were six lead changes and four ties in the first half.
Ironton couldn’t shake the Oaks in the first half in part due to the absence of Fletcher who was called for his second foul at the 3:07 mark of the first quarter and sat out the rest of the half.
“Early we took a lot of quick shots,” said LaFon. “When Zac started attacking the basket and Trevor started scoring it pulled the defense off Zac.”
The Fighting Tigers got a steal and layup by Carter and a runner in the lane by Josh Glover to open the game with a 4-0 lead.
But a 3-pointer by Luke Hammond for the Oaks made it 4-3 and the battle was on.
Ironton led 10-9 at the end of the first quarter but Garrin Stiltner’s 12-footer gave Oak Hill its first lead to begin the second quarter.
A layup by Hammond gave Oak Hill its biggest lead at 16-12 with 5:56 left in the half.
Trevor White then took over with three straight baskets including a putback of his own missed foul shot and Ironton was up 18-16 at the 4:19 mark.
Stiltner and Nathan Kidd made layups to put the Oaks back in front 20-18. Glover’s layup and a 15-foot baseline jumper by Carter with four seconds left gave Ironton a 22-20 halftime lead.
Fletcher returned in the second half and quickly made his presence felt. He made two fouls shots, drained a 3-pointer and followed up a missed shot to give Ironton a 29-23 lead
But he picked up his third foul and returned to the bench for part of the third quarter.
Oak Hill came back to take a 38-37 lead on a three-point play by Stiltner at the 2:37 mark. White made two foul shots to give Ironton the lead for good at 41-39 with 1:35 left in the quarter.
Carter took charge from that point on.
First, he made a driving layup and then he buried a trifecta with 12 seconds on the clock and Ironton led 49-42 at the end of the quarter.
“I just had to be more aggressive,” said Carter.
The Ironton senior guard began driving to the basket and drawing fouls in the fourth quarter. He converted 9-of-10 attempts at the line.
Oak Hill scored just seven points in the fourth quarter. A layup by Stiltner cut the deficit to 55-46 with 5:18 left, but Ironton went on an 11-0 run to seal the outcome.
“We felt we wore them down. That’s why I started going to the basket instead of taking outside shots,” said Carter. “I’m pretty good at reading defenses.”
Hammond had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Oaks who finished 22-5. Stitlner scored 19 points in the losing effort.
State tournament tickets will go on sale to the public at 7 p.m. Monday in the Conley Sports Center.
See page 3B for the boxscore.
Oak Hill 9 11 22 7 = 49
Ironton 10 12 27 17 = 66
OAK HILL (22-5): Ryan Gaines 0 0 0-0 , Garrin Stiltner 6 2 1-1 19, Drew Haislop 1 0 4-8 6, Kyle Love 1 1 0-0 5, Luke Hammond 3 2 3-4 15, Nathan Kidd 1 0 2-2 4, Kyle Cox 0 0 0-0 0, Jonathon Harrison 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-49 10-15 49. 3-point goals: 5-19. Rebounds: 12 offense, 19 defense = 31 (Hammond 9, Stiltner 5). Team rebounds: 6. Assists: 11 (Kidd 4, Haislop 3). Steals: 5 (Kidd 4). Turnovers: 13. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: None. Blocked shots: 4 (Hammond 3, Love 1).
IRONTON (23-2): Zac Carter 8 3 9-11 34, Josh Glover 2 0 2-2 6, Trevor White 6 0 2-4 14, Trey Fletcher 2 1 3-6 10, Aaron Stephens 0 0 0-0 0, Tristan Cox 0 0 0-0 0, Darrius Boykin 1 0 0-0 2, Joe Bowling 0 0 0-0 0, Jake Long 0 0 0-0 0, Jalen Schweickart 0 0 0-0 0, Trevor Easterling 0 0 0-0 0, Isaac Sherman 0 0 -0 0, Charles Scott 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-49 16-23 66. 3-point goals: 4-11. Rebounds: 10 offense, 22 defense = 32 (White 12, Fletcher 4, Carter 4). Team rebounds: 1. Assists: 8 (Carter 4, Fletcher 2, Glover 2). Steals: 9 (Carter 5). Turnovers: 8. Fouls: 15. Fouled out; None. Blocked shots: 3 (Bowling, White, Fletcher).