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Ironton-Portsmouth rivalry carries bigger implications

So, are you coming?

The Ironton vs. Portsmouth rivalry dates back more than 100 years. In football, no other schools in the state of Ohio have played each other as often as these two programs.

But both schools have been known for having good basketball teams and this year is no exception. In fact, both teams are in contention for the boys’ Southeastern Ohio Athletic League title.

The two teams get together at 7:30 Tuesday in a battle for first place in what figures to be a very entertaining and emotionally charged match up.

So, are you coming?

It’s been 30 years since Ironton won a league basketball title. Joe Fletcher and Tim Hodges helped Ironton to the SEOAL crown in the 1979-80 season.

Granted, for more than a decade Ironton was an independent and there was no league, but it’s still been 30 years.

Ironton comes into the game 5-0 in the SEOAL. Portsmouth is tied with pre-season favorite Chillicothe for second place at 5-1.

So, are you coming?

However, there have been some new developments in this story. As of last Friday, Portsmouth had two players become eligible. Dion McKinley returned to the team’s active list and Tory Horne was declared eligible in a ruling by the Ohio High School Athletic Association concerning Horne’s residence after transferring to Columbus this year and then back to Portsmouth.

Horne and McKinley played in an 88-76 win at Logan on Friday. Horne scored 19 points including 8-of-8 from the foul line and McKinley added depth inside. That’s two nice addition to a team that was all ready playing well.

So, are you coming?

If Ironton is to survive Portsmouth’s challenge, the Fighting Tigers must travel to Chillicothe on Friday. What a week.

However, if the Fighting Tigers can win both games — and that’s a big “if” — they would be in the driver’s seat since both Portsmouth and Chillicothe would have two losses and must still play each other at Chillicothe.

Tuesday’s game is big. The student body needs to be big in numbers and come with vocal cords well-tuned. The fans need to do the same. The team needs that sixth man to sound more like a sixth, seventh and eighth man.

So, are you coming?

If you don’t, you’re gonna miss a good one.

—— Sinatra ——

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.