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Fighting Tigers must defuse another shooting star

It's Hot Shots Part IV.

Throughout the postseason tournament, the Ironton Fighting Tigers have faced a team with a strong outside shooter. Things won't change in the state semifinals, either.

Ironton will face the Archbold Blue Streaks and high-scoring guard Dan Borcherdt at 2 p.m. Friday in the Division III state semifinals at the Ohio State Schottenstein Center.

Borcherdt averages 23 points a game for the Blue Streaks who are 24-1 and making their second trip to the Final Four in the past three seasons.

Coach Roger Zornes said Borcherdt is another outstanding shooter like Eastern Brown's Brett Buecler, Chesapeake's P.J. Rase and Bloom-Carroll's Joe Goodyear.

"He's another guy who can shoot the lights out. Like everyone else, he can shoot from the perimeter," Zornes said.

Borcherdt scored 28 points in Archbold's regional championship win over Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. Although he was just 5 of 15 from the field, he sank 15 of 15 shots from the foul line including all 12 attempts in the fourth quarter.

David Borcherdt is the second leading scorer at 9.7 points a game. Kirk Weldy, a 6-foot-4 senior center, is next with 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds a contest, Brad Hurst averages 4.8 points an outing, and Gene Goering also scores at a 4.8 clip and leads the team with a 7.5 rebounding average.

But it's not the Blue Streak offense that concerns Zornes.

"They're a good defensive team and rebound real well," Zornes said. "They work very hard and they are a rough and tumble bunch. They're just real solid."

Neither team has a lot of size and Zornes said both go about seven or eight deep.

"I think we match up pretty good," Zornes said.

The Fighting Tigers like to use their press and run up and down the floor, but injuries have slowed their style. Joe Zornes suffered a badly sprained ankle in the district finals and leading scorer Dennis Gagai is still bothered by a bad ankle.

"Hopefully, we'll be a little healthier," coach Zornes said. "We did run some (against Bloom-Carroll), but we can't to the same thing we did all season because we're playing some pretty good teams. They keep you from running."

Borcherdt, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, is the only starter remaining from the team that reached the state tournament two years ago.

Ironton, 25-0, is making its second trip to the Final Four and first since 1994.

While Archbold has some state tournament experience, Zornes doesn't know if it will be a factor.

"It can make a difference, but I don't know if it's that big of a factor," Zornes said. "Our guys can't stand to lose, so I don't think they'll let it bother them."

No. 1 ranked North College Hill plays Loudonville at 10:45 a.m. Friday in the other semifinal game. The winners play at 5:15 p.m. Saturday in the championship game.