• 72°

SEOAL Champs

LOGAN — League champions.

For the first time since 1980, the Ironton Fighting Tigers have a league basketball championship after beating the Logan Chieftains 68-58 Friday.

Ironton is 15-2 overall and — coupled with Warren’s win over Chillicothe — clinched the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League title with a 12-0 league mark.

“The kids played hard and they battled. It was an intense game and an emotional game. I was real proud of the work they’ve put in this year and how hard they’ve played,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon.

“I’m excited for the kids. They’ve earned (the title). This is a good basketball conference. We like the competition. For a school our size to win in a league like this that has bigger schools with such great talent, it’s hard to believe we could win it.”

Not only did Ironton have to get a win on the road, but the Fighting Tigers played most of the game without leading scorer Tim Kochendoerfer who was mired in foul trouble and sat out all the second quarter and almost the entire third quarter.

However, Zac Carter came off the bench to score a career-high 27 points including four 3-point goals to lead Ironton. Kochendoerfer still managed to finish with 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

“It was a very physical game, a tough, tough game,” said LaFon. “We played at least two quarters without Tim and it was a case of the other guys just stepping up. Zac had a big game with points and the other guys did things that don’t show up in the boxscore.”

J.P. Taylor led all rebounders with 10 and Travis Elliott pulled down eight as Ironton dominated the glass 44-32 including 20 on the offensive end.

Ironton opened the game by taking an 11-4 lead before Logan got within 11-6 on a layup by Jeff Dietz.

Carter answered by drilling three baskets from behind the arc as Ironton built a 20-12 lead at the end of the quarter.

Logan cut the deficit to 22-19 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Mason Mays and Jordan Rutter. Ironton built a 34-23 lead late in the quarter on layups by J.P. Taylor, Trey Fletcher and Carter.

The Chieftains finished the half with four straight points and it was 34-27 at the break.

Logan came out in the second half and used a 3-pointer by Rutter and two foul shots by Patrick Angle to get Logan within 34-32 at the 6:54 mark.

A put-back by Fletcher and a driving layup by Taylor gave Ironton some breathing room. Two foul shots by Carter, a layup by Taylor and a triple by Carter opened up a 47-35 lead with 2:35 on the clock.

But Logan used a 7-0 run to end the quarter and climb to within 47-42.

Kochendoerfer returned to the lineup to start the fourth quarter and immediately buried a trifecta and followed with a layup to stretch the lead to 52-42.

A layup by Angle made it 54-47 with just under six minutes to play, but Logan never got any closer and Ironton led by as many as 11 points over the final two minutes of the game.

“We made a lot of bad decisions late in the game. We kept trying to force the ball inside because we were trying to draw fouls,” said LaFon.

Angle and Mays scored 16 points each and Dietz 14 to lead Logan (5-12, 3-8).

Ironton was out of the SEOAL from 1985 to 2006. The Fighting Tigers have won four previous league titles, all during the 1974-1980 era under Buddy Bell and Phil Rice.

The Fighting Tigers have never gone unbeaten in the SEOAL. The last SEOAL team to go unbeaten in round-robin play was Gallipolis at 10-0 during the 1986-87 season. The last time it was accomplished during an 8-team league schedule was 1974-75 when Waverly was 14-0.

The Fighting Tigers play at Wheelersburg on Tuesday, host Marietta next Friday and visit Portsmouth on Saturday.

Ironton 20 14 13 21 = 68

Logan 12 15 15 16 = 58

IRONTON (15-2, 12-0): Malcolm Morton 3 0 0-0 6, Travis Elliott 3 0 0-0 6, Tim Kochendoerfer 3 2 0-5 12, J.P. Taylor 2 1 1-4 8, Erin Edens 0 0 0-0 0, Zac Carter 2 4 11-13 27, Josh Murphy 0 0 0-0 0, Trey Fletcher 4 0 0-0 8, Michael Turner 0 0 0-0 0, Charles Stewart 0 0 0-0 0, Nick Culbertson 0 0 0-0 0, Jonathan Norris 0 0 0-0 0, Trevor White 0 0 0-0 0, Nolan Johnson 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-60 13-25 68. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: None. 3-point goals: 7-14. Rebounds: 20 offense, 24 defense = 44 (Taylor 10, Kochendoerfer 8, Elliott 8). Team rebounds: 4. Assists: 10 (Morton 5, Taylor 2). Steals: 8 (Morton 2, Edens 2). Turnovers: 16.

LOGAN (5-12, 3-8): Patrick Angle 6 0 4-4 16, Jordan Rutter 0 2 0-0 6, T.J. Colegrove 1 0 0-0 2, Mason Mays 4 1 5-8 16, Jeff Dietz 6 0 2-2 14, Jeff Murpy 0 0 0-0 0, Kenneth Buckler 0 0 0-0 0, Kyle Guess 1 0 0-0 2, Jarred Rutter 0 0 2-4 2, Luke Miller 0 0 0-0 0,Dylan Cavinee 0 0 0-0 0, Matt Yeske 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-58 13-19 58. Fouls: 26. Fouled out: None. 3-point goals: 3-12. Rebounds: 14 offense, 18 defense = 32 (Angle 10, Dietz 10). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 9 (Angle, Jo. Rutter, Colegrove 2 each). Steals: 9 (Mays 2, Ja. Rutter 2). Turnovers: 16.

RESERVES: Ironton 51, Logan 50.