Ironton must match Fort Frye#8217;s intensity

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 3, 2006

How good is Fort Frye? Just look at their last game when they beat No. 2 Bellaire 56-47 to win the district championship.

“Bellaire was 23-0 and Nate Davis was averaging 39 points a game. Fort Frye beat them and Davis struggled to get 20 points. Those facts alone tell you how good of a team we’re playing,” Ironton coach Mark LaFon said.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers (18-5) will find out first-hand how good Fort Frye (18-6) really is when the two teams meet at 6:15 p.m. in the Convocation Center at Ohio University in the Division III regional semifinals.

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Wednesday’s second game has Chesapeake (21-2) and Wheelersburg (21-2) playing at 8 p.m. The semifinal winners advance to the regional finals at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The strength of the offense is their two guards Tyler Engle, a 6-0 junior, and Tyler Ferguson, a 5-9 senior. Engle is averaging 21.9 points a game and has hit 101 of 245 3-point goals. Ferguson averages 11.6 points and is 34 of 100 from behind the arc.

“They can both hit the deep ball and that opens things up inside,” LaFon said.

When things open up inside, it’s 6-3 sophomore center Derek Thompson who does the damage. Thompson is the team’s leading rebounder and averages 10.7 points a game.

“They’re scrappy on the boards and they have been really dominating teams on the boards during the tournament,” LaFon said.

The other two starters are 5-8 sophomore guard Mason Lang and 6-1 senior forward Derek Thieman. Lang averaged 2.3 points and Thieman 6.1 points.

The key player off the bench is 6-1 freshman Brandt Thieman, Derek’s cousin, who averages 5.9 points and is capable of shooting the 3-ball.

“They’ve got some offensive weapons,” LaFon said.

But there is more to the Cadets than their offense. LaFon said Fort Frye plays an aggressive defense as evidenced by the win over Bellaire in which Davis was just 7 of 29 from the field.

“They played good team defense. They’re pretty solid. They are going to guard you. You’re not going to let you get the easy shot or get the ball coming off

a screen,” LaFon said.

When it comes to intangibles, LaFon said the Cadets are “a hustling, hard-nosed group. They’re a tough bunch.”