Next Stop: The Schott
ATHENS — It was a game of lost and found.
Austin McMaster kept finding the basket and the Ironton Fighting Tigers lost their shot. As as result, the Chesapeake Panthers earned their first-ever trip to the Final Four.
McMaster scored 12 of his 19 points in the second half as the Panthers posted a 63-47 win over the cold-shooting Fighting Tigers Saturday in the Division III regional championship at Ohio University.
“We just settled down and played like we did all season. The whole team stepped up. We started slow and got confidence at the end,” said McMaster.
Ironton (21-4) was a frigid 19-of-57 from the field for 33 percent. Ironton coach Mark LaFon said his team was its own worst enemy.
“We didn’t do a very good job of being patient early,” said LaFon. “We knew they were going inside on us. We let them get to the block. Before long they stretched it out to 10 and there you go. We said going in that (McMaster) was the X-factor. He was killing us.”
McMaster hit one big shot after another throughout the second half including five key shots in the fourth quarter.
McMaster got a long rebound off a missed shot and scored with 5:49 left, then made a runout layup with 5:16 to go that gave the Panthers a 51-42 lead. He then hit back-to-back jumpers that opened up a 55-44 lead with 3:08 to go.
Nathan Copley hit 6-of-8 from the line over the final 53 seconds including a technical foul shot to seal the Panthers trip to Columbus. Copley finished with 15 points including 8-of-10 at the line.
Chesapeake went to its inside game the first quarter as Colin Kennedy and Trent Saunders combined for 12 points and the Panthers were able to take a 19-12 lead.
“We talked about keeping them off the boards to have a chance,” said Panthers’ coach Ryan Davis.
“The first quarter I just told them to go play. You got us here. You want to call a set, you call a set. Early Trent and Colin were around the basket and our guys found them. It was good for us to pick up points without Nathan and Austin scoring.”
Copley said the team stuck with the game plan even with the early freedom.
“We just wanted to attack the basket and if we got something inside, then OK. Mainly our goal was to attack,” said Copley.
Ironton shot a dismal 4-of-17 from the field in the first quarter and was only 8-of-26 in the half 30 percent.
The Fighting Tigers got within 21-15 to start the second quarter on a 3-point play by Travis Elliott, but a long 3-pointer by Copley that bounced high off the rim and fell in followed by Colton Lindsey’s layup opened up a 28-17 lead.
The Panthers got a tip-in from McMaster and a layup by Lindsey to end the second quarter to take their biggest lead of the half at 35-22.
With Trey Fletcher scoring six points including a 3-point play with 5:21 to go in the third quarter that got Ironton within 39-31. A free throw by Fletcher, a 10-footer by J.P. Taylor and a layups by Elliott and Erin Edens cut the deficit to 43-38 with 52 seconds on the clock.
Lindsey’s short jumper to end the quarter made it 45-38.
A layup by Zac Carter and Timmy Kochendoerfer’s put-back narrowed got Ironton within 47-42 with 6:02 to play. But McAMaster then got the hot hand as the Panthers began to pull away.
Ironton (21-4) was led by Fletcher with 12 points and eight rebounds. Carter had 10 points while Kochendoerfer grabbed eight rebounds to go with seven points.
Chesapeake (21-4) will play Plymouth at 10:45 a.m. Thursday in the state semifinals at the Ohio State University Schottenstein Center.
Ironton 12 10 16 9 = 47
Chesapeake 19 16 10 18 = 63
IRONTON (21-4): Malcom Morton 1 0 0-0 2, Travis Elliott 2 1 2-3 9, Timmy Kochendorfer 3 0 1-2 7, Zac Carter 3 1 1-1 10, Trey Fletcher 5 0 2-3 12, Erin Edens 1 0 0-0 2, J.P. Taylor 1 1 0-0 5, Josh Murphy 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-57 6-9 = 47. 3-point field goals: 3-14 (Taylor 1, Carter 1, Elliott 1). Fouls: 14. Fouled out: Carter (:30) . Rebounds: 18 offense, 14 defense = 32 (Fletcher 8, Kochendorfer 8, Morton 4).Team rebounds: 5. Assists: 5 (Carter 2). Steals: 8 (Carter 2, Taylor 2). Blocked shots: 2 (Kochendorfer 1, Taylor 1). Turnovers 15.
CHESAPEAKE (21-4): Peter Hintz 3 0 0-0 6, Nathan Copley 2 1 8-10 15, Austin McMaster 8 1 0-0 19, Trent Saunders 4 0 1-1 9, Coli Kennedy 2 0 4-4 8, Colton Linsdey 3 0 0-0 6, Seth Ransbottom 0 0 0-0 0.Totals: 24-57 13-15 = 63. 3-point field goals: 2-12 (Copley 1, McMaster 1). Fouls: 9. Fouled out: None. Rebounds: 6 offense, 20 defense = 26 (Saunders 11, Copley 5, McMaster 5). Team rebounds: 4. Assists: 8 (McMaster 5, Hintz 2). Steals: 5 (Saunders 2). Blocked shots: 3 (Kennedy 2, McMaster 1). Turnovers 14.