Lady Tigers, Oaks to meet again

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali would be proud.

Known for their three epic boxing matches that culminated with the “Thrilla in Manila,” the story will have company Wednesday when the Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers and Oak Hill Lady Oaks complete their basketball trilogy.

After splitting their two regular season games, the rubber match will be on a neutral court for greater stakes than pride as Ironton and Oak Hill square off in the Division III regional semifinals at Lancaster High School at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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Each team won at home, Ironton 57-48 and Oak Hill 50-48. Ironton head coach Amy Hughes sees a similar game.

“This is really going to be one heck of a game,” Hughes said. “Oak Hill has a great program and they went to the state tournament two years ago. We went to the state tournament last year, so we both know about what it means to play in a big game.”

The game will be the second straight rubber match for the Lady Oaks (19-5) who split with Northwest in the regular season but won Saturday 54-50 to claim the district championship.

Ironton (22-2) won its second straight district title with a 62-43 victory over Lynchburg Clay. Hughes doesn’t expect the same type of game with the Lady Oaks.

“I’m not even thinking about scoring 60 points against Oak Hill. All I’m thinking about is trying to win. They’re way too good to think you’re going to dominate them, and they’re better than the last time we played them and they won that game,” Hughes said.

Oak Hill’s success this season has been fueled by 5-foot-8 senior guard Keisha Davis, the Southeast district Division III Player of the Year who averages 17.7 points a game. Davis is 62 of 195 from 3-point range and leads the team with 4.5 assists.

“Davis has hurt us each time we’ve played. We tried to slow her the last game and she hurt us even worse. She’s a nice player,” Hughes said.

“But they have more than Davis. Ruff and Adkins have been through the tournament and Moore and Marshall are much improved.”

Lacey Adkins, a 5-10 junior, averages 11.6 points and 6.7 rebounds. Jill Phillips also averages 6.7 rebounds and 4.7 points.

Annah Ruff scores at a 9.8 clip with 5.2 rebounds. Karla Moore (4.9 ppg) and Kaylin Marshall (6.5 ppg) round out the starters.

The first game Wednesday has Columbus Bishop Ready (18-6) playing Sugarcreek Garaway (22-2). The winners play at 1:30 p.m. Saturday for the regional title and a berth in the state tournament.