Soooo Close

Published 11:17 pm Saturday, January 2, 2010

It wasn’t supposed to be close. In fact, the Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers weren’t even supposed to have a chance.

So much for “supposed to.”

Ironton didn’t listen to the pre-game hype against unbeaten Oak Hill and nearly came away with a major upset as the Lady Tigers fell 46-44 to the Lady Oaks.

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Oak Hill came into the game 9-0 and with most of its team intact from last year’s state runner-up finish. But Ironton (7-4) didn’t fold, even after falling behind by as many as 11 points in the second quarter.

“We missed some layups and had a couple of key turnovers, but I can live with that when we give the kind of effort we did today,” said Ironton coach Doug Graham.

“Our girls played hard and with a lot of hustle and intensity. They were fun to watch. They played one of the top teams in the state in our division and went toe-to-toe with a chance to win. I’m proud of their effort.”

Oak Hill went up 12-6 late in the first quarter before a layup by Janie Morris and a 15-footer by Brea Tackett with five seconds on the clock made it 12-10.

The Lady Oaks were up 25-14 on a 14-footer by Rebecca Puckett midway through the second quarter, but again Ironton battled back on a layup by Lorna Ceaser and a trey by Tackett with 33 seconds left to make it 27-21 at the break.

A layup by Karissa Adkins gave Oak Hill another 11-point lead of 36-25 in the third quarter. Tackett and Morris connected on two foul shots each as Ironton remained aggressive and kept attacking the Oak Hill defense.

A layup by Lakin Caudill put the Lady Oaks ahead 38-29, but Rebekkah Potter hit a foul shot and Alex Taylor hit a layup at the buzzer and it was 38-32.

Nikki Elswick made a layup to start the fourth quarter and get Ironton within 38-34, but the Lady Oaks scored six unanswered points and it was 44-34 with 6:33 to play.

Taylor’s layup and a 15-footer by Morris got Ironton right back in the game at 44-36.

Ceaser made two foul shots as Ironton trailed 46-44 with 42 seconds left. Oak Hill’s Breanna Butler missed the front end of a one-and-one with 27 seconds left, but Ironton lost the ball out of bounds as two teammates battled for the rebound.

The Lady Oaks missed the front end of another one-and-one three seconds later, but Ironton failed to convert two foul shots with three seconds left that could have tied the game.

“The big thing that hurt us was letting them get some key offensive rebounds. We gave them some second chances and they capitalized on them,” said Graham.

Ironton had a balanced offense with Tackett scoring 9, Morris 8, Elswick 7 and Ceaser, Taylor and Potter 6 each. Elswick had 10 rebounds and Taylor 8 as Ironton held a 32-23 advantage.

Oak Hill was led by Adkins with 13 points and Butler with 12. Kelsey Burton had 7 rebounds.

Ironton visits Gallipolis on Wednesday.

Oak Hill 12 15 11 8 = 46

Ironton 10 11 11 12 = 44

OAK HILL (10-0): Taylor Hale 2-4 1-2 5,Breanna Butler 5-12 1-2 12, Rebecca Puckett 2-6 2-26, Mikie Strite 1-2 0-0 2, Karissa Adkins 6-13 0-1 13, Kelsey Burton 1-5 0-0 2, Lakin Caudill 1-2 3-6 5, Taylor Butler 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 18-46 7-13 46. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: Puckett (4th 0:42). 3-point goals: 3-13 (Hale 0-1, B. Butler 1-7, Strite 1-1, Adkins 1-2, T. Butler 0-2). Rebounds: 12 offense, 10 defense= 23 (Burton 7, Caudill 4). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 7 (7 players 1 each). Steals: 9 (B. Butler 2, Adkins 2, Strite 2). Turnovers: 11.

IRONTON (7-4): Rebekkah Potter 2-7 2-4 6, Alex Taylor 2-6 2-3 6, Brea Tackett 3-7 2-2 9, Janie Morris 3-7 2-3 8, Lorna Ceaser 2-4 2-4 6, Nikki Elswick 2-3 3-6 7, Taylor Lilly 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-34 13-22 44. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: Morris (4th 0:24). 3-point goals: 1-5 (Tackett 1-3, Morris 0-1, Potter 0-1). Rebounds: 11 offense, 21 defense = 32 (Elswick 10, Taylor 8, Morris 6, Ceaser 5). Team rebounds: 2. Assists: 7 (Morris 3, Tackett 2). Steals: 4 (Morris 2). Turnovers: 19.