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Battlin’ Back

If this had been a heavyweight fight, the Ironton Fighting Tigers would have taken a standing eight count.

But in character of the movie character “Rocky,” Ironton fought back to win a 66-63 decision in overtime over the Chesapeake Panthers Tuesday.

“I’m proud of the way our kids fought back. We’re down five with 52 seconds left and it doesn’t look like we’ve got much of a chance,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon.

“But our kids believed they could come back. They didn’t lose their focus. We hit some big shots and made some big plays. They got me excited by the way they battled back.”

Chesapeake (1-1) had rallied from a 27-24 halftime deficit to take a 45-37 lead at the end of the third quarter as Ironton made just 3-of-12 shots.

Two foul shots by Colin Kennedy and one by Peter Hintz with 52 seconds left gave the Panthers a 57-52 lead.

But Ironton’s Tommy Waginger hit a trifecta with 31 seconds left, then stole the ball nine seconds later to set up a Tim Kochendoerfer’s 6-foot baseline jumper that tied the game with 14 seconds left in regulation.

“We stopped waiting to see what would happen and we began to make things happen,” said LaFon.

A 3-point attempt by Nathan Copley was on line but fell just short and the game went into overtime.

“We had opportunities to win the game. We were in good position, but Ironton came out and played harder than we did,” said Panthers’ coach Ryan Davis.

Copley hit an 8-footer to put the Panthers up, but Kochendoerfer made a layup and then Malcolm Morton turned two straight steals into layups and a 63-59 Ironton lead with 1:17 to go.

“I just saw an opportunity and I went for it. Overtime is supposed to be exciting,” said Morton.

After trading free throws, Copley drained a 3-pointer as the Panthers got within 64-63 with 22 seconds on the clock.

Waginger was fouled and hit the first of two free throws seven seconds later and then Morton came up with his third steal in overtime with three seconds left and was fouled. He sank the first of two shots with one second left to set the final score.

“We were focused not to let them shoot the three. If they got the shot off, we just made sure we got the rebound,” said Ironton’s Travis Elliott about the defense in the final seconds.

Waginger finished with 19 points for Ironton (1-1). Morton had 14 points and three steals while Kochendoerfer got 14 points and seven rebounds.

The loss overshadowed a 27-point performance by Copley. Trent Saunders had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

On Saturday, Ironton hosts Manchester at 7:30 p.m. while Chesapeake plays Waverly at 12:30 at Ohio University.

Chesapeake 12 12 21 12 6 = 63

Ironton 16 11 10 20 9 = 66

CHESAPEAKE (1-1): Peter Hintz 3 0 2-4 8, Nathan Copley 3 5 6-6 27, Austin McMaster 3 1 0-0 9, Trent Saunders 5 0 3-5 13, Colin Kennedy 1 0 3-4 5, Colton Lindsey 0 0 1-2 1, Patrick Hintz 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-51 15-21 63. 3-point goals: 6-16. Fouls: 20. Fouled out: None. Rebounds: 7-24=31 (Saunders 10, Copley 5). Team rebounds: 6. Assists: 4 (Pe. Hintz 2, McMaster 2). Steals: 11 (Pe. Hintz 4, Saunders 4). Turnovers: 20.

IRONTON (1-1): Malcolm Morton 5 1 1-3 14, Tommy Waginger 3 3 4-6 19, Travis Elliott 3 0 3-4 9, Tim Kochendoerfer 6 0 2-2 14, Erin Edens 1 0 1-2 3, Zac Carter 1 0 1-2 3, J.P. Taylor 2 0 0-0 4, Josh Murphy 0 0 0-0 0, Michael Turner 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-66 12-19 66. 3-point goals: 4-20. Fouls: 20. Fouled out: None. Rebounds: 18-23=41 (Edens 8, Kochendoerfer 7, Taylor 7, Elliott 5). Team rebounds: 5. Assists: 9 (Elliott 2, Taylor 2). Steals: 14 (Morton 3, Kochendoerfer 3, Edens 3). Turnovers: 18.