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Fighting Tigers can’t overcome injuries

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ senior guard Zac Carter (30) steps back from Chillicothe’s Marcus Dunn and drains a shot as he scores two of his career-high 41 points. Ironton lost to the Cavaliers 70-64. (The Ironton Tribune / Tony Shotsky of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

 

It might have been Valentine’s Day, but it seemed more like St. Patrick’s Day to the Chillicothe Cavaliers.

Everything seemed to go the Cavaliers’ way as they escaped with a 70-64 comeback win over the Ironton Fighting Tigers on Tuesday despite a 41-point performance by Zac Carter that put him over the 1,000-career point plateau.

First, Ironton had a 7-4 lead when starter Dion Brown twisted his knee and sat out the rest of the game.

With 58 seconds left in the same quarter, Trey Fletcher — who had seven points in the first quarter — turned an ankle when he accidentally stepped on some players who were piled up on the floor under the basket and did not return.

Suddenly the rotation and roles changed including Carter who was forced to carry the bulk of the offensive load.

Ironton coach Mark LaFon refused to use the injuries as an excuse.

“We did a terrible job handling their pressure,” said LaFon.

“Yes, some players had to move up in the rotation and play more minutes, but they know the offense and our press breakers.”

Besides the injuries, the Cavs enjoyed their best shooting game of the season. They hit 56 percent from the field and 65 percetn from the foul line.

Ironton (14-5) led throughout most of the game including 16-9 at the end of the first quarter and 31-23 at the half. The Fighting Tigers’ biggest lead in the first half was 25-13 with 3:09 on the clock.

A 3-pointer by Aaron Elliott just before the buzzer got the Cavaliers within eight at the break.

Carter hit a 15-footer with 2:43 left in the third quarter gave Ironton its biggest lead of the game at 45-29.

But the Cavaliers (13-6) outscored Ironton 12-2 the rest of the quarter including a pair of 3-point plays by Elliott to cut the deficit to 47-41.

A layup by Zach Johnson gave Chillicothe its first lead at 48-47 with 6:28 left to play.

Ironton regained the lead for the last time at 56-55 on a foul shot by Carter with 3:47 to go. Elliott hit a foul shot to tied the game, Malik London sank two free throws and Johnson’s layup made it 62-56.

Trevor White’s dunk with 27 seconds left got Ironton with 66-62, but two free throws by Elliott and a layup by Jalen Jones sealed the Cavs’ win.

Elliott led Chillicothe with 25 points, London had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Johnson scored 19.

Chillicothe 9 14 18 19 = 70

Ironton 16 15 16 17 = 64

CHILLCIOTHE (13-6): Malik London 5 5-6 15, Jalen Jones 1 0 0-1 2, Adam Bixler 0 1 0-0 3, Aaron Elliott 4 4 5-6 25, Zach Johnson 9 0 1-2 19, Marcus Dunn 2 0 0-2 4, Pierce Knisley 1 0 0-0 2, Charlie Demint 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 27-48 11-17 70. 3-point goals: 5-13. Rebounds: 11-16=27 (Long 11, Johnson 5). Team rebounds: 5. Assists:15 (Johnson 5). Steals: 9Jones 4, Elliott 3). Turnovers: 16. Blcoked shots: 4 (London 4). Fouls: 18. Fouled out: None.

IRONTON (14-5): Zac Carter 12 1 14-17 41, Trey Fletcher 3 0 1-1 7, Nolan Johnson 1 0 0-0 2, Dion Brown 1 0 0-0 2, Josh Glover 0 0 0-0 0, Trevor White 2 0 2-3 6, Aaron Stephens 2 0 0-0 4, Darrius Boykin 1 0 0-0 2, Joe Bowling 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-50 17-21 64. 3-point goals: 1-6. Rebounds: 11-13=24 (Stephens 6, White 4). Team rebounds: 2. Assists: 2 (Carter 2). Steals: 8 (Carter 4, White 3). Turnovers: 13. Blocked shots: 1 (White). Fouls: 14. Fouled out: None.