Fighting Tigers get needed road win over Ashland, 60-49

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 3, 2006

ASHLAND, Ky. — On the road again, I can’t wait to get on that road again. Playing ball and getting us a win, I can’t wait to get on the road again.

With apologies to Willie Nelson, the Ironton Fighting Tigers found life on the road to their liking for the second straight game as they beat the Ashland Tomcats 60-49 Tuesday.

“I’m really happy to win. This is a hard place to win,” Ironton coach Mark LaFon said. “We put some road wins together and that’s good for the kids’ confidence.”

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Ironton, coming off a win in Canton over St. Thomas Aquinas, had one other road win at Green. They have won all five home games.

The win also gave Ironton (8-4) its first-ever three-game winning streak over the Tomcats.

Dennis Gagai provided the bulk of the offense with 26 points to go with eight rebounds. Marc Carter scored 19 points while Brandon Walker pulled down 10 rebounds.

But LaFon said little things are making the difference for the Fighting Tigers such as a couple of steals by Troy Allen off the bench or a pair of assists by T.J. Keith.

“Everyone is beginning to understand their role and how if we all play our role, the team will have success,” LaFon said. “Everyone is contributing and I’ve got good calls from my coaches.”

Ashland (5-10) was led b Drew McDavid with 22 points and Matt Thomas with 19. McDavid also had seven rebounds.

“We knew the were good shooters and we weren’t going to stop them, but we wanted to limit their shots at the end and we did that,” LaFon said.

The first half began slow with Ironton take an 8-6 first quarter lead. A steal and layup by Gagai put the lead at 22-14, the largest of the half, and his foul shot made it 23-16 at intermission.

Ashland used a three-point play by McDavid with 1:59 left in the third quarter to take its only lead of the game at 32-31.

But Gagai took over the rest of the quarter with a layup off a pass from Keith and drained a pair of 3-pointers, the second with three seconds on the clock for a 39-32 lead.

Ashland closed to within 48-46 on a layup by Thomas with 1:32 to play, but Carter sank four foul shots and Gagai scored four points as the lead went to 56-47 with 39 seconds left.

The Fighting Tigers were 9 of 12 from the line in the fourth quarter including 8 of 8 over the final 1:16.