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Lady Tigers use defense to win sectional

PEDRO — The dictionary describes the word smother as “To deprive, to extinguish something, to suppress.”

Add another definition: The Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ defense.

Ironton’s defense proved smothering as the Lady Tigers beat the Fairland Lady Dragons 59-24 Saturday in the Division III sectional tournament at Rock Hill High School.

Ironton not only caused 25 turnovers — 14 were steals — but held Fairland to just three field goals in the first quarter and one each in the subsequent next three quarters.

For the game, Fairland was just 6-of-39 from the field for 15 percent.

“We haven’t played that well the last few games, but today we played like we’re capable. We played good half-court defense and really got after them,” said Ironton coach Doug Graham.

Fairland coach Jon Buchanan said Ironton’s defensive performance was no surprise to him.

“We didn’t play well, but Ironton had a lot to do with it. They play the best half-court defense of any team I’ve seen,” said Buchanan.

Brea Tackett scored 20 points to go with four assists and three steals to lead the Lady Tigers.

Nikki Elswick scored 15 points and pulled down 13 rebounds as Ironton out-rebounded Fairland 39-30. Lorna Ceaser had eight rebounds while Alex Taylor had five steals and Janie Morris four steals and two assists.

Ironton wasted little time taking charge. Elswick scored the first 6 points of the game and 10 of 12 for a 12-2 lead. Tackett then drained a trifecta and a 15-footer for a 17-2 lead at the 2:49 mark.

A 3-pointer by Kennon Clarkson got Fairland (8-13) within 21-10 at the end of the quarter, but Ironton outscored the Lady Dragons 14-3 in the second quarter and it was 35-13 at the break.

A stick-back and foul shot by Elswick and layups by Alex Taylor and Ceaser opened up a 49-17 lead at the end of the third quarter as Fairland managed to score just 4 points.

Ironton (13-7) will play Lynchburg Clay in the district semifinals at 8 p.m. Monday, March 1, in Waverly.

Fairland 10 3 4 7 = 24

Ironton 21 14 14 10 = 59

FAIRLAND (8-13): Kayla Swiger 0 0 1-2 1, Jaimie Phillips 2 0 0-0 4, Megan Brooks 0 1 0-0 3, Kennon Clarkson 11 1 2-4 7, Mariah Chaffin 0 0 0-0 0, Stormie Spitzer 0 0 2-4 2, Katie Fuller 1 0 0-0 2, Tori Garrett 0 0 0-0 0, Pieper Lewis 0 0 0-0 0, Carman Webb 0 0 0-0 0, Lauren Poe 0 0 1-2 1, Keri Napier 0 0 4-6 4. Totals: 6-39 10-18 24. 3-point goals: 2-10. Fouls: 19. Fouled out: None. Rebounds: 12 offense, 18 defense = Clarkson 6, Phillips 4, Swiger 4). Team rebounds: 6. Assists: 1 (Brooks). Steals: 5 (five with 1). Turnovers: 25.

IRONTON (13-7): Alex Taylor 2 0 1-2 5, Nikki Elswick 6 0 3-4 15, Brea Tackett 5 2 4-6 20, Janie Morris 2 0 2-4 6, Lorna Ceaser 2 0 3-5 7, Rebekkah Potter 1 0 0-0 2, Emily Lilly 0 0 1-4 1, Taylor Lilly 0 0 0-0 0, Emily Davis 1 0 0-0 2, Kayla Adkins 0 0 0-0 0, Ariel Schweickart 0 0 1-2 1, Tori Klaiber 0 0 0-0 0, Karlee McMackin 0 0 0-0 0, Alisha Murphy 0 0 0-0 0, Colleen Walker 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-48 15-27 59. 3-point goals: 2-4. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: None. Rebounds: 17 offense, 22 defense = 39 (Elswick 13, Ceaser 8). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 7 (Tackett 4, Morris 2). Steals: 14 (Taylor 5, Morris 4, Tackett 3). Turnovers: 15.