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Fighting Tigers’ comeback falls short

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ Darrius Boykin (4) takes a 3-point attempt during Tuesday’s game at Portsmouth. Ironton rallied late but fell 59-53 to the Trojans. (The Ironton Tribune / Tony Shotsky of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

 

PORTSMOUTH — Digging a hole was one thing, but digging it that deep became a problem.

Ironton fell behind by 15 points in the third quarter, then battled back to within a basket. But the Fighting Tigers were unable to climb completely out of the hole as they lost 59-53 to the Portsmouth Trojans on Tuesday.

“We did our job to get back in it, but when you’re down 15 in a big game, that’s hard to overcome,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon.

Portsmouth went up 45-30 on a layup by Jovontae Edwards late in the third quarter Trey Fletcher nailed a3-ponter with 15 seconds left in the quarter to get Ironton within 45-33 but Edwards had another layup at the buzzer and it was 47-33.

But Ironton was undeterred.

The Fighting Tigers kept clawing their way back into the game. Fletcher made a basket and Zac Carter drained back-to-back 3-pointers to get Ironton within 55-53 with 51 seconds to play.

Wayne Evans hit a foul shot for the Trojans and it was 56-53. Zac Carter couldn’t hit the front end of a one-and-one and Mason Jordan hit a free throws with 34 seconds left and Zaide Whitely two more with 15 seconds to play to put the Trojans up 59-53.

The Fighting Tigers (10-3) were plagued by cold shooting. They made 20 of 52 from the field for 38 percent and only 9 of 17 at the foul line.

“We battled so hard to get back in it. It’s difficult to win ballgames shooting 38 percent from the field and 52 percent from the foul line,” said LaFon.

Ironton came out of the starting gate quickly with an 8-0 run before a putback by Edwards scored for the Trojans.

A foul shot by Nolan Johnson gave Ironton a 9-2 lead but then Portsmouth scored 11 unanswered points the rest of the quarter to take a 13-9 lead. Dion McKinley, Whitley and Evans hit consecutive 3-pointers to ignite the run.

Fletcher’s foul shot and a trifecta by Carter tied the game at the start of the second quarter. The game was tied until Evans hit a 10-footer for a 19-17 lead and the Trojans were up 26-19 after a layup by Whitley.

Zac Carter hit a jumper with three seconds left and Ironton trailed 26-21 at the break. He made two foul shots with 3:36 left in the third quarter and it was 35-30.

But Portsmouth went on a 10-0 run to take its biggest lead of the game.

Fletcher led Ironton with 21 points while Zac Carter scored 19. Dion Brown had 8 rebounds and Johnson grabbed 6.

Evans had 21 points, 8 assists and 4 steals as Portsmouth (11-2) won its ninth straight. Whitley scored 13 and Edwards 10.

Ironton hosts Greenup County on Friday in a rematch of last Tuesday’s game.

Ironton 9 12 12 20 = 53

Portsmouth 13 13 21 12 = 59

IRONTON (10-3): Zac Carter 2 3 6-7 19, Trey Fletcher 8 1 2-5 21, Josh Glover 1 0 0-0 2, Dion Brown 2 0 0-0 4, Nolan Johnson 1 0 1-2 3, Trevor White 2 0 0-1 4, Darrius Boykin 0 0 0-00, Tanner Dutey 0 0 0-0 0, Aaron Stephens 0 0 0-2 0. Totals: 20-52 9-17 53. 3-point goals: 4-15. Rebounds: 16-15=31 (Brown 8, Johnson 6). Assists: 10 (White 4). Steals: 4. Turnovers: 13. Fouls: 21. Fouled out: Brown (4th 2:41).

PORTSMOUTH (12-2): Wayne Evans 6 2 3-6 21, Dion McKinley 2 1 0-0 7, Zaide Whitley 2 2 3-5 13, Len Collins 0 0 0-0 0, Mason Jordan 1 0 1-2 3, Jayllen Carter 1 0 3-3 5, Jovontae Edwards 5 0 0-0 10, Trevor Violette 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-52 10-16 59. 3-point goals: 5-15. Rebounds: 11-19=30 (McKinley 10, Edwards 6, Evans 6). Assists: 9 (Evans 8). Steals: 7 (Evans 4). Turnovers: 11. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: McKinley (4th 5:37).