Ironton turns up defensive pressure against Trojans

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Nobody is perfect, but there’s nothing wrong with trying to be that way.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers played near-perfect defense Friday as they forced 27 turnovers en route to a 77-40 rout of the Portsmouth Trojans.

“We’re not perfect, but it’s getting better,” Ironton coach Mark LaFon said. “(The defense) is what sparked us. We did a better job rotating, Our ball pressure was good and our ball-side denial was good, but we still have to get better.”

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The Fighting Tigers jumped in front 11-2 after a layup by Michael Phillips midway through the first quarter. Four foul shots by Portsmouth cut the lead to 15-10 at the end of the quarter.

After Portsmouth took a 20-19 lead with 4:48 left in the half on a 3-pointer by Nicholas Chabot, Ironton forced eight turnovers and came back to take a 34-24 halftime lead.

Dennis Gagai had five points in the quarter including a long 3-poiner that extended the lead to 26-22.

Gagai led Ironton (5-3) with 18 points despite sitting out the final 10 minutes of the game.

Marc Carter had 13 points and Alstan Carter 12.

“We’re looking for a second and third scorer,” LaFon said. “Brandon (Walker) has been sick and he’s just getting over football. We’re asking Alstan (Carter) to be more aggressive and we’re asking Marc (Carter) to be more aggressive.”

Nicholas Chabot and Charlie Doll scored 11 points each for Portsmouth (3-7).

Ironton also got some solid play off the bench from T.J. Keith with eight points, six rebounds — four on offense — and two assists.

J.J. Johnson scored nine points and twin brothers Trevor and Troy Allen combined for 11 points. Trevor had five rebounds.

“We just had to run the floor and get our fastbreak going. But it’s more about the defense. That and rebounding,” Keith said.

Ironton outrebounded Portsmouth 30-18. Michael Phillips also had five rebounds while Walker and Gagai had four each.

Alstan Carter scored the first six points to begin the second half as Ironton opened up a 40-24 lead. Antonio Johnson hit a 3-pointer for Portsmouth to temporarily stop the bleeding, but Marc Carter scored and Gagai made a reverse layup and the lead was 44-27.

A 3-pointer by Marc Carter just before the buzzer opened up a 56-35 lead and LaFon emptied the bench for the fourth quarter.