Hot-shooting Cougars hand Ironton first loss

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2005

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — They were the shots “Hurd” round the gym.

Despite a sensational shooting effort by Dennis Gagai, the Ironton Fighting Tigers couldn’t overcome the hot-hand of Mike Hurd in the second half that led the Capital Cougars to an 81-59 win Friday.

Gagai poured in 29 points including 7-of-10 from the 3-point range. But Heard hit five 3-pointers in the second half and the Cougars made all eight of their treys after halftime to snap a tie game.

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“All our kids played hard and Dennis did a nice job, but when Heard got hot he stayed hot even when we had a hand in his face,” Ironton coach Mark LaFon said.

There were six lead changes and five ties in the first half. Ironton trailed by just five points with four minutes left in the third quarter when Hurd got hot and Capital began to pull away.

“The first half we did a real good job of hustling and boxing out. But in

the first half 70 percent of their points were in the paint. We said we couldn’t do that and win,” LaFon said.

“We played pretty good playing their style in the first half, but then we went away from anything we do and the game got away from us. We’re not an up-and-down the floor team. We have to play our game.”

Gagai scored 16 points in the first half as Ironton went up 23-19 midway through the second quarter.

A layup by Brandon Walker tied the game at 27-27 before Andre Beasley scored to put Capital ahead.

Gagai sank both ends of a one-and-one to tie the game and Alstan Carter’s 18-footer gave Ironton a 31-29 lead. Tyrone Goad made a layup with one minute left in the half to tie the game.

After Capital took a 36-33 lead to start the second half, Gagai drained a 3-pointer and Walker’s two foul shots tied the game at 38-38.

A 3-poiner by Travis Lewis had Capital ahead 45-40 and then Ironton’s Michael Phillips made a layup to get Ironton within 45-42 with 4:40 to go in the third quarter.

A layup by Trevor Allen had Ironton down 49-44, but Hurd hit two straight shots from behind the arc and Capital was ahead 55-46 at the end of the quarter.

Hurd hit another 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter, but Gagai knocked down a pair of trifectas and it was 60-52 with about six minutes to play.

The Cougars took over from that point as Hurd hit two more long shots and the Capital inside game began to dominate.

Hurd finished with 19 points while 6-foot-5 James Parker scored 10 and Goard also had 10. Isaac Holstein, a 6-8 center, was held to six points, all in the second half.

Walker scored 10 points to join Gagai as the only Ironton players in double figures.

Ironton won’t have time to reflect on the loss. The Fighting Tigers play at Wheelersburg next Friday.

“We can’t panic. This is a division one school and a very good team. We just have to get back to work and try to get better,” LaFon said. “A lot of coaches and people in the media are picking Wheelersburg as the team to beat in our region.”