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Ironton takes control to beat Oak Hill

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

JACKSON — First, the Ironton Fighting Tigers tried it the Oak Hill Oaks’ way and it was toooo slow.

Then the Fighting Tigers tried it their way and it was just right.

Forget that third bowl of porridge. Two bowls were more than enough to try for Ironton as they beat the Oaks 46-32 on Saturday to win the Division III sectional tournament.

Oak Hill controlled the tempo of the game in the first half and as a result they led 22-16 at the half. But Ironton upped the tempo in the second half and rallied for the win.

“I told them at halftime the bottom line was that we were not being aggressive. We’ve got to make things happen,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon.

“It was all about tempo. I told them the first half we played their tempo and you see what happened. In the second half we played our tempo and we started making them make mistakes.”

The Oaks — who shot 9 of 21 in the first half — scored on Nick Gaines layup to start the second half and they led 24-16.

But Zac Carter made two foul shots and a layup, Trey Fletcher hit a layup and Josh Murphy scored off a pass from Malcolm Morton to complete the 8-0 run that tied the game at the 5:36 mark.

Josh Kisor hit two foul shots with 4:17 left in the quarter to give the Oaks their final lead at 28-26.

Carter scored and then he and Travis Elliott had back-to-back steals for layups and a 32-28 lead. Nick Culbertson’s two free throws at the 2:31 mark gave Ironton a 34-28 lead.

“Coach LaFon told us we needed to control the tempo. He said that was the most important thing,” said Elliott. “We threw up different presses to speed up the game and they started making mistakes.”

Fletcher connected on two straight put-back shots as Ironton opened up a 38-28 lead with 7:05 to play.

Westen Hale hit a layup but Fletcher and Trevor White scored inside and Carter drained a 12-footer to make it 44-30 with 4:08 left.

“What our kids didn’t realize is how important each basket was in a game like this,” said LaFon who played and then began his coaching career under Oak Hill coach Norm Persin.

“They play a slow style and they’re very disciplined. A 10-point lead against them is like a 20-point lead against someone else.”

Carter led Ironton with 16 points. Fletcher had 14 points — 12 in the second half — and 13 rebounds after sitting out most of the first half in foul trouble.

Kisor had 10 points and seven rebounds for Oak Hill (15-7).

Ironton (14-7) will play Meigs at 3:45 p.m. on Sunday, March 6, at the Ohio University Convocation Center.

Oak Hill 9 13 6 4 = 32

Ironton 9 7 18 12 = 46

OAK HILL (15-7): Garvin Stiltner 0 0 0-0 0, Jesse Slone 2 0 0-0 4, Westen Hale 1 0 2-2 4, Nick Gaines 1 2 0-0 8, Josh Kisor 3 0 4-4 10, Luke Hammond 2 0 0-0 4, Drew Haislop 0 0 0-0 0, Travis Blevins 0 0 0-0 0, Kyle Love 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12-40 6-6 32. Fouls: 12. Fouled out: None. 3-point goals: 2-14. Rebounds: 6 offense, 15 defense = 21 (Kisor 7, Slone 5). Teams rebounds: None. Assists: 5. Steals: 4 (Slone 2). Turnovers: 13. Blocked shots: Kisor 1.

IRONTON (13-7): Malcolm Morton 1 1 0-1 5, Travis Elliott 2 0 1-1 5, Zac Carter 6 0 4-4 16, Josh Murphy 1 0 0-0 2, Trey Fletcher 6 0 2-3 14, Trevor White 1 0 0-0 2, Josh Glover 0 0 0-0 0, Nick Culbertson 0 0 2-2 2. Totals: 18-43 9-11 46. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: None. 3-point goals: 1-5. Rebounds: 10 offense, 23 defense = 33 (Fletcher 13, White 5). Team rebounds: 4. Assists: 5 (Morton 3). Steals: 8 (Morton 2, Elliott 2). Turnovers: 13. Blocked shots: 4 (Fletcher, White, Morton, Murphy 1 each).