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Tournaments always bring unexpected results

March Madness has nothing on high school basketball in February.

The high school sectional tournaments have been filled with surprises as teams have been able to take a one-game shot and managed to pull off an upset.

Oak Hill took the biggest hit last Friday when the unbeaten Oaks fell in overtime to Wheelersburg, 57-51. The Oaks were 12-of-25 at the foul line including 4-of-10 in overtime while the Pirates were 10-of-14 in the extra period at the line.

The loss isn’t that surprising. The Oaks technically have a loss this season. They lost to Huntington St. Joe who Chesapeake, South Point and Fairland have all beaten. Due to a problem eligibility paper work, the Irish had to forfeit four games but have appealed the decision.

So why have the Oaks done so well? Can you say Norm Persin?

Portsmouth also suffered an upset last Friday when the Trojans blew a 15-point lead and lost 63-62 on a 3-pointer with eight seconds left to Lucasville Valley.

Teams are now heading to district play and there have been some changes. The two early boys’ games schedule for Sunday have been moved to Saturday after the girls’ games.

Chesapeake will still play at 7:15 p.m. on Sunday.

The girls’ district semifinals will be held at Waverly’s downtown arena but the finals at Ohio University for the second straight year. The Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers are the only Lawrence County team still alive with a chance to advance.

The girls Division III district finals have change times this Saturday to 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The girls’ Div. II final is 5 p.m. with the boys’ Div. III semifinals at 7:30 and 9:15.

Boys’ district final time changes for March 13 include Div. IV at 3 p.m. while the Div. III games are 5, 7 and 9 p.m.

Gagai, NKU advance

Dennis Gagai— the all-time leading scorer in Ironton history — is playing at Northern Kentucky and has helped the Norse to the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament semifinals.

NKU beat St. Joseph’s 66-60 on Sunday and will play Kentucky Wesleyan on Saturday in the semifinals. Gagai had eight points in 21 minutes as he made 2-of-3 from the field and 4-of-5 from the foul line.

If the Norse can win the tournament, they earn a fourth-straight automatic bid to the NCAA Division II national tournament. NKU and Kentucky Wesleyan have split their two games this season, each team winning on their home court.

Gagai is a red-shirt junior guard who is second on the team in scoring average at almost 10 points a game. He has started 16 of the 23 games he’s played in. He missed six games due to an injury.

Gagai has been the high scorer three times this season including 22 against Indiana-East in which he made six 3-pointers and grabbed 10 rebounds.

The Norse is 17-12 this season.


Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.