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Ironton overcomes complacency to beat Marauders

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ forward Trey Fletcher (44) lays in two points in front of a Meigs’ defender during Sunday’s Division III district semifinal game. Ironton won 70-64. (The Ironton Tribune / Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

ATHENS — Coach Mark LaFon doesn’t want his team to play uptight, but this wasn’t what he was talking about.

Ironton played like a rollercoaster before beating the Meigs Marauder 70-64 Sunday in the Division III district semifinals at Ohio University.

The Fighting Tigers kept building big leads by as much as 18 points, then standing around as Meigs would mount a rally.

“The thing I got very frustrated with was how we got complacent in the second half,” said LaFon.

“In tournament time you’ve got to stay at it the whole time. You can not relax. You’ve got to do the same thing at the end of the game that you did at the beginning of the game.”

Ironton (14-7) used the scoring trio of Zac Carter, Trey Fletcher and Travis Elliott to help build their big leads and then hang on.

Carter finished with a game-high 33 points including six free throws over the final 1:20 to seal the win.

Fletcher had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Elliott added 10 points — all in the first half.

Fletcher scored nine points as Ironton took a 15-8 lead and Elliott had six more and it was 19-10. Carter hit trey with 51 seconds on the clock and the Ironton lead was 26-12 at the end of the first quarter.

A layup by Seth Wells got Meigs within 26-16 but back-to-back layups by Elliott pushed the lead out to 32-18 with 3:14 left in the half.

Carter’s triple with five seconds on the clock gave Ironton a 37-23 halftime cushion.

Fletcher found Nolan Johnson wide open under the basket for a layup at the 5:44 mark of the third quarter and the lead was 43-25.

That’s when Ironton went into a relax mode and Cameron Bolin hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get Meigs within 45-36.

Baskets by Carter and Nick Culbertson had Ironton up 49-36 only to have Ryan Payne make a lauyup before the buzzer and Meigs was down 49-38.

Ironton got rolling again to start the fourth quarter as Carter scored five points including a layup at the 6:26 mark to extend the lead to 56-40.

But Bolin hit a pair of triples and scored 10 points as Meigs cut the deficit to 62-54 with 1:41 to go.

The Marauders had to foul and Carter converted six free throw attempts down the stretch to seal the win.

“Bolin is the type of kid that when he heats up he hits three or four shots in a row. We weren’t even guarding him. We just relaxed and didn’t focus on the task at hand,” said LaFon.

Bolin finished with 23 points and Jesse Smith 21 for Meigs (11-11).

Ironton will play Wheelersburg at 5 p.m. Saturday in the district finals. The Pirates beat Peebles 63-58 in overtime.

Ironton 26 11 12 21 = 70

Meigs 12 11 15 26 = 64

IRONTON (13-7): Travis Elliott 5 0 0-0 10, Zac Carter 10 2 7-7 33, Josh Murphy 0 0 0-0 0, Trey Fletcher 8 1 0-0 19, Nolan Johnson 2 0 0-0 4, Trevor White 1 0 0-0 2, Tanner Dutey 0 0 0-0 0, Nick Culbertson 1 0 0-0 2, Malcolm Morton 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 30-56 7-7 70. Fouls 15. Fouled out: None. Three-point goals: 3-8. Rebounds: 9 offense, 23 defense = 32 (Fletcher 10, Murphy 7, White 6). Teams Rebounds: 0. Assists: 8 (Fletcher 3, Johnson 2). Steals: 6 (Carter 5, Murphy 1). Turnovers: 14.

MEIGS (11-10): Dillon Boyer 0 0 0-0 0, Cameron Bolin 2 5 4-7 23, Colton Stewart 4 0 4-4 8, Jesse Smith 8 0 5-5 21, Seth Wells 2 0 1-2 5, Ryan Payne 1 0 0-0 2, Dijuan Robinson 0 0 0-1 0. Totals: 22-58 14-19 64. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: Payne (4th 1:02). Three-point goals: 5-17. Rebounds: 16 offense, defense 17 = 33 (Smith 8, Bolin 6, Wells 5). Team Rebounds: 5. Assists: 9 (Robinson 2, Bolin 2). Steals: 4 (Bolin 2). Turnovers: 12.