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Ironton stuns Pointers, 57-53

JACKSON — It was once said — probably by a New York Times reporter — that you should never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers wrote their own story and ignored the facts as they upset the South Point Pointers 57-53 in the Division III sectional finals Friday.

Coming into the game, the top-seeded Pointers were 20-0 and ranked 13th in the final Associated Press poll.

Ironton was just 11-9 and seeded ninth. Coach Mark LaFon said his players did a good job blocking out the numbers and hype and focusing on the task at hand.

“I was proud of our kids defensive effort. They flat got after it,” said LaFon. “They were committed to playing the game. They didn’t worry about all the distractions and things going on around them.”

Ironton’s Dustin Green and Lukas Morris had the task of slowing down South Point’s leading scorer Todd Mayo who was averaging 22.6 points a game.

Mayo finished with 21 points, but he had only four at halftime. He scored 14 in the fourth quarter, seven from the foul line.

“Bubby did a great job filling for Marc (Carter) when he got his second foul. I can’t say enough about Dustin and Lukas for job they did on Mayo,” said LaFon.

“I was proud of the way the whole defense rotated. Erin Edens gave us some solid minutes and Nick Lewis played solid in the first half. He was locked in.”

Mayo, a sophomore, was injured last Saturday against West Union and did not practice until Thursday. Center Corey Taylor was also nursing an injury, but Norris said it wasn’t a factor in the outcome of the game.

“Ironton’s end of the quarter scoring, their rebounding, and our turnovers. That was the game in a nutshell,” said Norris. “We didn’t do the things necessary to win and they did.

“We knew each other. We’ve watched them so many times that we knew if they got six or seven, eight points on second chances that we were in serious trouble and they did that.”

South Point lead 10-4 as both teams couldn’t get any offensive rhythm in the first half.

But a 3-pointer by Tim Kochendoerfer got Ironton within 10-7 before Mayo’s 15-footer had the Pointers up 12-7 to end the quarter.

The Pointers continued to hold onto the lead until the final seconds of the half. Green made a layup with 22 seconds left as Ironton trailed 19-18. After forcing a turnover, Green had a put-back shot with four seconds left and Ironton had its first lead of the game at 20-19.

Mayo’s 3-pointer to start the second half put South Point back on top and a 3-pointer by Zach Woody made it 25-22.

A baseline jumper by Chase Kratzenberg followed by a steal and layup by Kratzenberg gave South Point a 29-24 lead.

But as the quarter began to wind down, Carter hit a driving layup, Green got a follow up shot, and Carter drained a trifecta with five seconds on the clock and Ironton led 33-32.

Ironton shot just 14-of-43 over the first three quarters, but then made 8-of-11 in the fourth quarter with all the field goals coming around the basket.

“When you’re playing good defense it makes your offense better. You get easier shots,” said LaFon.

Ironton continued its scoring surge to begin the fourth quarter.

Kochendoerfer made a foul shot, Green got another put-back shots, then came up with a steal and was fouled. He made only one of two shots, but Morris rebounded the missed shot and scored and it was 39-32.

Morris got a layup with 5:08 to play and the lead was 41-32.

Beau Weed hit a 3-pointer to get South Point within 47-41 with 2:27 left. Green answered with a layup and, after a Pointer turnover, Carter was fouled and made two shots and it was 51-41.

A layup by Green off a pass from Edens gave Ironton its biggest lead at 53-42 with 1:04 left, and Carter and John Schweickert each sank a pair of foul shots over the final 28 seconds to seal the upset.

South Point struggled from the field with 17-of-46 shooting, but the Pointers biggest area of concern was 26 turnovers.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well and some of that is attributed to Ironton. We had some good looks,” said Norris.

“They hurt us rebounding. They got a lot of second shots. That pretty much broke our backs. They scored at the end of each quarter and that sometimes gets overlooked.”

Green finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. Carter had 13 points and Kochendoerfer added 11.

Weed had 10 points and Corey Taylor 12 rebounds — 11 in the first half — lead South Point.

Ironton (12-9) will play at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Ohio University Convocation Center against Peebles.