Fighting Tigers battle back to beat Red Devils in OT

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 25, 2003

Trailing 18-4 at the end of the first quarter, Ironton coach Roger Zornes looked at assistant coaches Greg Arden and Bart Burcham and said, "You guys coach them. I give up. I've tried everything."

But Zornes didn't give up and neither did the Fighting Tigers. Ironton came to life in the second quarter and eventually used some clutch foul shooting to beat the Russell Red Devils 54-48 in overtime Friday night.

"We came out really flat," Zornes said, hinting the letdown may have been due to a carryover from Tuesday when Ironton lost 56-55 to Ashland in the final seconds of the game.

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"But this group is gritty. We kept chipping away and our defense forced some turnovers. Dennis (Gagai) came off the bench and gave us a big lift. It got to be a backyard brawl and our kids just kept battling."

Russell (6-10) came out hot and made 8 of 14 field goal attempts the first quarter to build the big lead. Ironton led 4-2 at the 6:27 mark of the first quarter on a follow up shot by Patrick Kouns, then went more than eight minutes without scoring.

"(Russell) was giving us some nice looks, but the shots weren't falling," coach Zornes said.

Derique Bacon hit two free throws with 6:13 on the clock in the second quarter and Gagai followed with a 3-pointer and 19-footer to jump start the offense.

Joe Zornes had a 3-pointer and Gagai made another from behind the arc at Ironton got within 21-17 at the 1:30 mark. Jared Ferguson hit a layup to put Russell up 23-17, but Nick Collins and Josh Sands each made free throws to get Ironton within 23-19 at the break.

A layup by Gagai with 3:05 on the clock in the third quarter gave Ironton a 28-27 lead. Bacon's layup off a nice pass from Collins tied the game at 32-32 as the quarter ended.

Two foul shots by Waginger put Ironton up 38-36 and Russell trailed the rest of the quarter until Michael Dodd nailed a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left in regulation to for the overtime.

But Russell continued its cold shooting in overtime and was forced to foul in an effort to get the ball back. The Fighting Tigers did not attempt a field goal in overtime as they made 9 of 14 free throw attempts.

Waginger made 11 straight foul shots including 8 of 8 in the fourth quarter.

He hit two foul shots with 1:15 left in overtime that gave Ironton a 51-48 lead and then sank the first of two with 21 seconds on the clock to set the final score.

Inbetween, Joe Zornes and Collins each made a free throw.

"After the first couple (of free throws) it's almost automatic," Waginger said. "The first couple were for confidence. It feels awkward at first, but after that it was feeling pretty good."

Coach Zornes wanted the ball in Waginger's hands in the fourth quarter and overtime periods.

"In my system, the point guard is not going to shoot a lot, but he's going to handle the ball a lot and he's going to get to the foul line," coach Zornes said.

Gagai had 12 points to lead four players in double figures. Waginger had 11 points, Joe Zornes 10, and Bacon 10 points and 13 rebounds. Collins had six rebounds.

Ferguson had 18 points and 10 rebounds while Kent Robinson got 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead Russell. The Red Devils were just 16 of 47 from the field overall and just 8 of 33 after the first quarter.

In the reserve game, Ironton (12-1) beat Russell 29-27 as Marcus Williams scored 14 points and Steve Elswick 6. Derek Slone had 14 points and Elijah Mullins 7 for Russell.



RUSSELL (6-10):

Josh Gross 1-4 (1-2) 2-2 5, Michael Dodd 1-1 (1-1) 0-0 3, Kent Robinson 5-9 (0-0) 4-6 14, Brandon Daniels 2-9 (1-4) 1-2 6, Jared Ferguson 6-15 (2-6) 4-8 18, Brian Groves 0-4 (0-3) 0-1 0, Carlo Repuyon 0-1 (0-1) 0-0 0, Tyler Cain 0-3 (0-0) 0-0 0. Totals: 16-47



48. Fouls: 31. Fouled out: Dodd, Robinson, Groves. Rebounds: 12-20=32 (Robinson 10, Ferguson 10). Deadball/team rebounds: 1. Assists: 6 (Groves 2). Steals: 7 (Robinson 2, Gross 2). Turnovers: 14.

IRONTON (12-2):

Josh Sands 2-10 (0-6) 3-6 7, Brigham Waginger 0-1 (0-1) 11-12

11, Joe Zornes 2-7 (2-6) 4-7 10, Derique Bacon 3-6 (0-0) 4-7 10, Patrick Kouns 1-1 (0-0) 0-2 2, Dennis Gagai 5-7 (2-4) 0-0 12, Nick Collins 0-1 (0-0) 2-4 2, Kevin Williams 0-1 (0-0) 0-0 0. Totals: 13-34



54. Fouls: 20. Fouled out: Bacon. Rebounds: 8-18=26 (Bacon 13, Collins 6). Team/deadball rebounds: 3. Assists: 6 (Zornes 2, Collins 2). Steals: 5 (Sands 2). Turnovers: 14.