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Ironton comes up short as they measure up to Taft

Ironton guard Malcolm Morton (10) brings the ball up the court against the Cincinnati Taft defense. (The Ironton Tribune / Tony Shotsky of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

When Ironton coach Mark LaFon pulled out his yardstick Tuesday night, he put it away and took out his ruler.

Admitting his team was not where it needs to be, the Fighting Tigers found themselves on the short end of an 83-65 score against the Cincinnati Taft Senators in the third annual Ironton Classic.

“I told the players going into this game that this would be our measuring stick,” said LaFon. “We’re not ready for this level of play yet. But as I told the players in our last timeout, this is December, not February.”

Taft (5-0) was more than ready at the start of the game as the Senators hit 16- of 32 floor shots including 6 of 14 from behind the arc.

“They shot the ball well, but that wasn’t our biggest problem,” said LaFon. “When we would start making a run, we didn’t finish plays or grab a defensive rebound and then they were on a run. We have to rebound better.”

Ironton (3-1) trailed 16-2 at the start of the game but drew within 19-11 on two foul shots by Travis Elliott and a layup by Trey Fletcher off a pass from Malcolm Morton.

Taft built a 35-20 lead with less than five minutes to play in the second quarter. Layups by Fletcher, Josh Murphy and a free throw by Morton cut the deficit to 35-25 at the 3:40 mark.

Ironton’s Zac Carter had a layup and converted a 3-point play with 2:19 left to cut the deficit to 41-32, but the Senators closed the half with the final five points to lead 46-32 at the break.

Taft began to gradually pull away in the second half. Chris Lowe hit a pair of 3-pointers to build a 66-46 lead at the end of the third quarter ad the lead grew to 78-55 on layupbys by Kadeem Palmer and Chris Lowe.

Ironton outscored Taft 10-5 the rest of the game.

“We’re still feeling our way around. We have to learn when we can take someone off the dribble and when we can’t. Heck, we’re still trying to figure out our rotation,” said LaFon.

Carter had 30 points to pace Ironton offensively. Elliott scored 13 points and had six rebounds, Fletcher added 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Morton had nine points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.

“Malcolm Morton played really well. He stayed under control and battled their pressure the whole game. Taft’s pressure is relentless,” said LaFon.

Taft had five players in double figures as Kadeem Palmer scored 17, Orlando Berry 13, Chris Lowe 11,and Marques Johnson and Adolphus Washington 10 each.

Berry had seven rebounds and Washington six.

Cincinnati Taft 24 22 20 17 = 83

Ironton 15 17 14 19 = 65

CINCINNATI TAFT (5-0): Kadeem Palmer 3 3 2-3 17, Jermaine Freeman 1 0 0-0 2, Orlando Berry 5 1 0-0 13, Dwayne Stafford 0 0 5-8 5, Adolphus Washington 4 0 2-4 10, Chris Lowe 1 3 0-0 11, Marques Johnson 5 0 0-1 10, Jalan Lowe 2 1 1-1 8, Glen Gilliam 2 0 1-2 5, Rasaan Jackson 1 0 0-0 2, Edmund Hunt 0 0 0-0 0, Malcolm Hicks 0 0 0-0 0, Mike Barton 0 0 0-0 0, Fred Canady 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 32-62 11-20 83. Fouls: 27. Fouled out: Stanford (4th 0:13). 3-point goals: 8-21. Rebounds: 9 offense, 22 defensive = 31 (Berry 7, Washington 6). Assists 17 (Freeman 4, Palmer 3, Berry 3). Steals: 10 (Berry 4). Blocked shots: Johnson 1, Washington 1, Berry 1.

IRONTON (3-1): Malcolm Morton 2 1 2-4 9, Zac Carter 5 2 14-15 30, Travis Elliott 2 1 6-8 13, Trey Fletcher 5 0 1-6 11, Josh Murphy 1 0 0-0 2, Josh Glover 00 0-0 0, Nick Culbertson 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-47 23-33 65. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: None. 3-point goals: 4-10. Rebounds: 7 offensive, 25 defensive = 32 (Fletcher 11, Morton 7, Elliott 6). Team rebounds: 2. Assists: 6 (Morton 3, Elliott 3). Turnovers: 18. Blocked shots: Fletcher 1.