• 68°

Turning On The ‘O’

WAVERLY — Just when it looked like Ironton’s offense had dried up, Brea Tackett turned on the water works.

After scoring just two points in the first half, Tackett had 12 points after the break to spark the Lady Fighting Tigers 36-27 win over the Lynchburg Clay Lady Mustangs Monday in the Division III district semifinals.

Ironton was only 5-of-20 from the field in the first half and led the low-scoring affair 13-11 at the half.

Lynchburg was a mere 3-of-21 from the floor in the first half.

“We were dry. We started to hit some shots in the second half. We made some changes at halftime,” said Tackett. “We weren’t ready to quit playing yet.”

“Before every game I set goals for myself. Two points is not me. I knew I had to pick it up for the team. Alex (Taylor) did a good job getting inside and everyone was doing a good job on defense.”

Tackett had all 12 of her second half points in the fourth quarter when the Lady Tigers outscored the Mustangs 19-6.

While the offense finally came to life, the defense continued to smother the Mustangs who were 4-of-20 from the floor in the second half.

“It’s all about survive and advance,” said Ironton coach Doug Graham. “There was never any rhythm to the game and it was hard to get any kind of flow until late in the game.”

Ironton took a 3-0 lead to start the game, the largest lead of the half. It was only 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.

A put-back by Nikki Elswick put Ironton up 15-11 to start the third quarter. Lindsey Hawk hit a 3-pointer for Lynchburg but Lorna Ceaser made two baskets to give Ironton leads of 17-14 and 19-16.

The Mustangs rallied to take a 21-19 lead at the end of the quarter on a triple by Hannah Blankenship and a layup by Cali Hatten with five seconds on the clock.

Tackett then took over to start the fourth quarter. Her 8-footer tied the game and here trifecta with 6:32 left put Ironton ahead for good at 24-21.

Ceaser’s layup and two free throws by Janie Morris extended Ironton’s lead to 28-21 and a foul shot by Rebekkah Potter made it 29-21.

A foul shot by Laney Lewis ended Ironton’s 10-0 run, but the Mustangs were forced to foul and the Lady Tigers converted 5-of-6 from the line over the final 1:28 to seal the deal.

“Our offense wasn’t there, but our defense did a great job. It seemed like everywhere the ball was, Alex was there. She really played hard,” said Graham.

Ceaser finished with nine points and Elswick raked in 15 of Ironton’s 38 rebounds: Taylor had nine rebounds.

Hawk had eight points and Lewis eight rebounds to pace Lynchburg Clay (15-7).

Ironton (14-7) will play Zane Trace at 3 p.m. Saturday in the district finals at Ohio University’s Convocation Center.

“Zane Trace has everybody back. We have a lot of respect for them. They have a good team,” said Graham.

NOTEBOOK: The loss brought to an end the coaching career of Lynchburg Clay’s Llinda Hatten who is retiring after 22 seasons. Her daughter, Cali Hatten, is a senior.

“Coach Hatten has 350 career wins and she’s coached for 22 years. That’s a testament to her, the community and the school. She’s had a lot of success,” said Graham.

CROWD: Not only did Ironton have a solid fan following, but the student section that made the trip via one of the school’s Greyhound buses was large and loud. Graham and Tackett voiced their approval.

“I want to give a shout out to the student section. They really got us going,” said Tackett.

“We got great support from the crowd,” said Graham. “Our principal (Joe Rowe) rode the pep bus and not many principals would do that. I hope it continues.”

TICKETS for the district finals are on sale for $6 at Bob Linn Sporting Goods. The school receives only a small percentage of the presale. All money at the door goes to the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

Lynchburg 7 4 10 6 = 27

Ironton 7 6 6 19 = 36

LYNCHBURG CLAY (15-7): Lillian Blankenship 0-11 0-2 0, Laney Lewis 0-3 3-4 3, Cali Hatten 3-9 1-2 7, Brooke Hertlein 1-3 0-1 2, Lindsey Hawk 1-9 5-8 8, Hannah Blankenship 1-3 1-2 4, Karen Hilt 0-0 0-0 0, Meredith Fittro 0-2 0-0 0, Lisa Rhonemus 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 7-41 10-19 27. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: Hatten (4th 0:30). 3-point goals: 3-14 (L. Blankenship 0-3, Lewis 0-1, Herlein 0-1, Hawk 1-5, H. Blankenship 1-1, Rhonemus 1-1). Rebounds: 10 offense, 18 defense = 28 (Lewis 8, Hatten 6, Hawk 5). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 2 (L. Blankenship 2). Steals: 8 (L. Blankenship 4). Turnovers: 13. Blocked shots: None.

IRONTON (14-7): Alex Taylor 1-4 2-3 4, Brea Tackett 4-12 5-6 14, Nikki Elswick 3-7 0-0 6, Janie Morris 0-4 2-2 2, Lorna Ceaser 4-5 1-4 9, Rebekkah Potter 0-21-2 1, Emily Lilly 0-1 0-0 0, Taylor Lilly 0-0 0-2 0, Emily Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Tori Klaiber 0-0 0-0 0, Ariel Schweickart 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 12-36 11-19 36. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: None. 3-point goals: 1-9 (Tackett 1-7, Morris 0-1, Potter 0-1). Rebounds: 11 offense, 27 defense = 38 (Elswick 15, Taylor 9, Tackett 4). Assists: 4 (Potter 3). Steals: 6 (Tackett 3, Morris 2). Turnovers: 16. Blocked shots: 3 (Elswick 3).