Lady Mustangs end Ironton#039;s tourney ride

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 1, 2003

WAVERLY -- The Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers had two main strengths, but they could only get one working against the Lynchburg Clay Lady Mustangs.

Ironton was unable to do what it does best, and as a result lost 47-43 to Lynchburg Saturday in the Division III district championship, 47-43.

"Defense and rebounding have carried us all year, and today our rebounding wasn't there," Ironton coach Amy Hughes said. "Give credit to Lynchburg. They played hard and they played well."

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Lynchburg held a 30-26 rebound advantage, but 11 were on the offensive end while Ironton had just six.

Hughes said the lack of experience may have contributed to Ironton's erratic play. Ironton, 17-5, was making its first district championship appearance since the 1984 season and first district trip since the 1996-97 season.

"It as a great atmosphere. The whole town of Ironton got behind us. It was loud in (the gym)," Hughes said. "But we were nervous. We let our nervousness make us move slow or stand and watch. It should have been the other way. The girls are not used to this type of atmosphere."

Leading scorer Candace Ferguson, who sat out much of the second half in foul trouble, agreed with her coach. She finished with 6 points and four rebounds.

"We were all just nervous. There was a big crowd and we aren't used to that," Ferguson said. "We started to come back, but we just couldn't finish."

Andrea Rudmann led Ironton with 13 points. Ashley Hannon had 12 points -- all on 3-pointers -- and Sara Hacker added 11 points and six rebounds. Danielle Henderson and Hannon also had six rebounds apiece.

Whitney Lewis scored 13 points to lead the Mustangs, but it was 10 points below her season average. She had 11 rebounds.

Codi Hatten came off the bench to score 13 points and get six rebounds.

"Danielle Henderson and Rachel Wylie did a nice job on Lewis. She's the premier player in her area and she's scoring 23 points a game, so to hold her to 13 points is a nice effort for our girls," Hughes said.

The Mustangs took advantage of several missed shots inside by Ironton to grab a 7-5 first quarter lead.

Hannon then hit a 3-pointer to begin the second quarter to give Ironton the lead, and Hacker took a pass from Ferguson to score and make it 10-7.

After Hatten scored, the Lady Tigers got baskets by Hacker, Ferguson and Rudmann to take their biggest lead of the game at 16-9 with 3:13 left in the half.

But the Mustangs scored 11 unanswered points to end the half including a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Lewis to go up 20-16.

Tiffany Sandlin's 3-pointer to start the second have extended Lynchburg's lead to 23-16 and a layup by Hatten made it 27-18 with 4:32 left in the quarter.

Rudmann got the momentum to shift with a 3-pointer, and layups by Hacker and Rudmann closed the gap to 27-25.

Hatten's layup had the lead at 29-25, but Hannon drained a 3-pointer with 17 seconds on the clock and Ironton trailed by just one.

Hannon hit another 3-pointer at the 7:49 mark and Ironton had its first lead since the second quarter.

Baskets by Megan Fittro and Hatten put the Mustangs back on top, but it was Hannon again dialing up a long-range jumper and the Lady Tigers were up 34-33 with 5:25 to go.

However, that was their last lead.

Ashli Smith made a 3-pointer and Lynchburg had a lead it would never relinquish.

Ironton trailed 44-42 on a baseline jumper by Rudmann with 1:07 to play, but Sandlin made two foul shots with 52 seconds left and it was 46-42.

Henderson's free throw cut the deficit to 46-43, and then Sandlin missed two foul shots with 28 seconds left to give Ironton another chance. But Hacker's 3-point attempt hit the back of the rim and Lewis grabbed the rebound. She was fouled and hit a free throw with seven seconds left to seal the win.

"We didn't quit. We made a big run at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth. Hannon and Hacker showed a little excitement. I was hoping we could feed off that, but we couldn't sustain it," Hughes said. "I wish there was more I could have done."

Hughes was disappointed after the loss, but said this year's team could ignite more success.

"The future is bright with Rudmann, Hacker and Henderson and the other young girls coming back. I hate to see it end like this for the seniors, though," Hughes said.

Lynchburg Clay will now play St. Clairsville Wednesday at Lancaster in the regional semifinals.

Lynchburg Clay713918--47



Ashli Smith 2-3 (2-2) 0-0 6, Tiffany Sandlin 1-5 (1-5) 2-4 5, Whitney Lewis 3-6 (1-1) 6-7 13, Megan Fittro 4-12 (0-6) 0-0 8, Natasha Mullins 0-12 (0-6) 2-2 2, Codi Hatten 6-9 (1-1) 0-1 13, Felicia Croy 0-3 (0-2) 0-0 0, Heather Stagge 0-1 (0-1) 0-0 0. Totals: 16-51



47. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None. Rebounds: 11-19=30 (Lewis 11, Hatten 6, Sandlin 5). Team/deadball rebounds: 7. Assists: 8 (Lewis 3). Steals: 4 (Mullins 2). Turnovers: 18. FG% – 31.4. FT% – 71.4. 3pt% – 20.8.

IRONTON (17-5):

Andrea Rudmann 4-13 (1-5) 4-6 13, Ashley Hannon 4-11 (4-9) 0-0 12, Rachel Wylie 0-0 (0-0) 0-0 0, Candace Ferguson 2-10 (0-0) 2-2 6, Sara Hacker 4-9 (1-5) 2-4 11, Danielle Henderson 0-1 (0-0) 1-2 1. Totals: 14-44



43. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: None. Rebounds: 6-20=26 (Hannon 6, Ferguson 4, Hacker 6, Henderson 6). Team/deadball rebounds: 2. Assists: 12 (Ferguson 3, Rudmann 3). Steals: 5 (Ferguson 2, Hacker 2). Turnovers: 16. FG% – 31.8. FT% – 64.3. 3pt% – 31.6.