Chesapeake edges Ironton, 56-55

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 24, 2003

CHESAPEAKE - It didn't take a rocket scientist to add up the facts and figures in the Chesapeake Panthers 56-55 win over the Ironton Fighting Tigers Tuesday.

The Panthers converted 20 of 25 foul shots while Ironton made good on just six of its 17 attempts. Chesapeake also shot 42 percent from the field and Ironton 39 percent. It all added up for Panthers coach Norm Persin and Ironton's Roger Zornes.

"We're a great free throw shooting team. We were able to knock them down," Persin said.

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"We missed 11 free throws and about a dozen layups and we lose by one point. You do the math," Zornes said.

And so it went.

But it was missed free throws by the Panthers and some clutch shooting by Dennis Gagai that gave Ironton a chance to win the game in the final seconds.

Trailing 52-42 with 3:38 to play, Joe Zornes hit two foul shots and Gagai knocked down back-to-back shots from behind the arc to close the gap to 52-50 with 2:01 left.

Daniel Thompson sank two foul shots with 28 seconds left for the Panthers to make it 54-50, but a quick runout layup by Derique Bacon cut the deficit to two points again with 22 seconds remaining.

Two more foul shots by Thompson pushed the lead to four, but Gagai buried another 3-pointer and Ironton trailed 56-55 with 17 seconds on the clock.

Trent Finley, nearly perfect at the line in the game, was fouled and missed both attempts with 12 seconds showing and Brigham Waginger got the rebound for Ironton. Coach Zornes called a timeout to set up the final shot.

Josh Sands went baseline and his shot hit the back of the rim and shot forward. Joe Zornes caught the ball and missed on another short range attempt as the buzzer sounded.

"We had our chances," Zornes said. "But we're still not clicking on all cylinders. It's early. We're still playing in spurts. But we want to keep getting better and be ready to play come tournament time."

Persin was happy that the Panthers (5-0) were able to weather the Ironton comeback.

"The big thing about this game is it was a test because we were playing before a packed house against a premier team," Persin said. "We were nervous early, but once we settled down we did just fine. But we have a long way to go."

Chesapeake jumped out to an 8-0 lead only to have Zornes hit three 3-pointers as Ironton came back to take a 17-15 lead.

A three-point play by P.J. Rase with 5:52 left in the half gave the Panthers the lead at 20-19. After Justin Porter followed up a missed shot for a 30-25 lead, Zornes hit a 10-footer and it was 30-27 at the break.

"Ironton is very athletic and strong. They're a lot like us. They have a lot of kids who can handle the ball and you have to worry about the inside presence," Persin said. "Zornes hurt us early and that makes it impossible to sluff off someone else and help defend."

The lead changed hands four times in the third quarter before Finley made two foul shots to make it 41-37 heading into the fourth quarter.

Rase had 15 points to lead four Panthers in double figures. Finley had 12 points, Stapleton 11 and Thompson 10.

Zornes led all scorers with 20. Gagai finished with 12 and Waginger 11.



IRONTON (3-1):

Josh Sands 2-8 (0-2) 0-1 4, Brigham Waginger 4-6 (2-2) 1-2 11, Joe Zornes 6-15 (3-5) 5-6 20, Nick Collins 0-4 (0-0) 0-2 0, Derique Bacon 3-6 (0-0) 0-4 6, Dennis Gagai 4-10 (4-8) 0-0 12, Patrick Kouns 1-1 (0-0) 0-0 2, Marcus Williams 0-1 (0-0) 0-2 0. Totals: 20-51



55. Fouls: 22. Fouled out: None. Rebounds: 9-20=29 (Zornes 6, Sands 5, Collins 5, Bacon 5). Deadball/Team rebounds: 2. Assists: 7 (Waginger 5). Steals: 3. Turnovers: 8. FG% – 39.2. FT% – 35.3. 3pt% – 56.3.


Daniel Thompson 2-4 (1-2) 5-6 10, P.J. Rase 4-13 (1-4) 6-7 15, Trent Finley 4-7 (1-3) 3-6 12, Andy Stapleton 4-9 (1-5) 2-3 11, Jeremy Miller 1-2 (0-0) 0-0 2, Justin Porter 1-1 (0-0) 2-2 4, Brennan Hall 0-2 (0-0)

2-2 2. Totals: 16-38



56. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: None. Rebounds: 5-21=26 (Stapleton 5, Rase 5, Miller 4, Porter 4, Hall 4). Deadball/Team rebounds: 4. Assists: 4 (Thompson 2). Steals: 3 (Stapleton 2). Turnovers: 10. FG% – 42.1. FT% – 80. 3pt% – 28.6.