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Ironton must contend with overall size of Mohawks

Being big has made for a big season.

Size has been a key factor for the Middletown Madison Lady Mohawks as they have motored to the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III Final Four unbeaten.

The No. 4-ranked Mohawks (26-0) was led by 6-foot-3 junior Ally Mallot who averages 18.1 points a game. Mallot was the Southwest District Player of the Year.

Mallot — who had 19 points to lead Madison in the regional finals — made 9-of-10 from the foul line in the second overtime. She is 54-of-65 for the season from the line.

“Mallot is a nice player. She’s the tallest player we’ve seen, but they’re also the tallest team we’ve played,” said Ironton coach Doug Graham whose Lady Fighting Tigers will play Madison at 1 p.m. Thursday in the state semifinals.

“They use their size to make it hard to get an open shot. This will be quite a different challenge for our girls.”

Rachel Blevins is the team’s top guard who is surrounded by more size. Senior Lindsay Hoskins, junior Ashley Cox and sophomore Brittany Shields are all 5-11. Hoskins is second on the team with a 14.3 scoring average.

Hoskins was also first team all-district with Mallot while Blevins and Shields were special mention.

Ironton (17-7) is facing its second straight unbeaten team. The Lady Tigers upset No. 3-ranked Oak Hill 43-31 in the regional finals to earn their third trip to the Final Four and first since the 2004-05 season.

Madison beat Versailles 63-52 in two overtimes in regional championship to reach the state tournament.

The Mohawks squandered a 16-point lead, then scored five points in the final 28 seconds to tie the game and send it into overtime.

Hoskins hit a layup with five seconds left in the first overtime to tie the game and send it to a second extra period.

“It was a great game. Versailles has a nice team. That was a nice win for (Madison),” said Graham.

Versailles was trying to qualify for its fourth straight Final Four appearance. Versailles was the last team to beat Madison when they won in last year’s regional tournament.

Madison is coached by John Rossi II whose father John Rossi Sr. won a state championship at Middletown Fenwick in 1982 at the age of 47. Son John is 47 this year.

The elder Rossi — who died in 2005 — coached 31 years and posted a 402-279 record. He is a member of the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Ironically, Madison’s girls are in the state tournament and the boys’ team is in the regional semifinals at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Ironton’s boys play in the regional semifinals at 8 p.m. Wednesday, too.