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Team play, defense put Ironton in district title game

Ironton Fighting Tigers' Nolan Johnson (20) tries to score inside but is fouled by Wellston’s Justus Ousley. Ironton routed Wellston 63-30 on Monday in the Division III district tournament semifinals. (The Ironton Tribune / Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

 

ATHENS — At tournament time, teams want to give a little extra.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers went that extra step against the Wellston Golden Rockets on Monday and as a result they took the next step toward a district title with a 63-30 rout in the Division III playoffs.

Ironton’s collective effort on defense frustrated and shut down Wellston while the Fighting Tigers’ offense generated 11 assists in an outstanding display of team ball.

“I was happy seeing everyone share the ball, not that we’ve been selfish with the basketball because we haven’t. But you could see that they wanted to make the extra pass,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon.

Ironton (17-5) will now play Eastern Brown at 7 p.m. on Saturday in the district championship game at Ohio University.

Zac Carter was the catalyst for Ironton with a game-high 18 points to go with five assists and five steals.

Trey Fletcher added 10 points and five rebounds and Trevor White had 9 points and five rebounds.

Nigel Courts led Wellston (13-9) with 13 points and eight rebounds.

Ironton was sluggish the first quarter and Wellston tied the game at 10-10 on a layup by Dakota Brown at the buzzer.

But the Fighting Tigers picked up their intensity in the second quarter and limited the Rockets to just two points.

Carter hit a trifecta and a 10-footer to start the quarter as Ironton took the lead for good at 15-10.

Tanner Dutey hit a 10-footer, Fletcher had a put-back and Carter sank two foul shots as Ironton built a 21-12 halftime lead.

“We just had to get used to the atmosphere,” said Carter. “We’ve seen so many defenses we’re used to it.”

LaFon agreed.

“It doesn’t matter how many times you come here, you’re going to have butterflies that first game,” said LaFon.

The Fighting Tigers’ defense forced 20 turnovers including eight in the third quarter when Ironton blew the game wide-open by outscoring Wellston 26-8.

“Tanner (Dutey) came in and gave us a spark — on the defensive side more than anything. He guarded the ball well, got a couple of deflections and then we went on the run where we just gave up two points,” said LaFon.

Nolan Johnson’s layup off a pass from White to start the second half ignited a 14-0 run capped by Josh Glover’s 3-point play and it was 35-12 at the 5:19 mark.

Wellston finally scored on a layup by Courts at the 5:09 mark, but Ironton scored 9 unanswered points to close the quarter for a comfortable 47-20 lead.

Ironton 10 11 26 16 = 63

Wellston 10 2 8 10 = 30

IRONTON (17-5): Zac Carter 5 2 2-2 18, Trey Fletcher 4 0 2-2 10, Trevor White 4 0 1-1 9, Nolan Johnson 2 0 1-2 5, Josh Glover 3 0 1-1 7, Aaron Stephens 1 0 0-0 2, Tanner Dutey 2 0 0-0 4, Darius Boykin 1 0 0-0 2, Joe Bowling 1 0 0-0 2, Nate Garred 0 0 0-0 0, Isaac Sherman 2 0 0-0 4, Tristan Cox 0 0 0-0 0, Sean Lawless 0 0 0-0 0, Trevor Easterling 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 27-58 7-8 63. 3-point goals: 2-11. Rebounds: 14-22=36 (Fletcher 5, White 5). Team rebounds: 5. Assists: 11 (Carter 5). Steals: 13 (Carter 5, Dutey 2, Fletcher 2, Glover 2). Turnovers: 12. Fouls: 10. Fouled out: None.

WELLSTON (13-9): Dakota Brown 1 0 3-5 5, Nigel Courts 6 0 1-2 13, Justus Ousley 0 1 0-0 3, Blake Warrington 0 0 0-0 0, Austin Craig 0 1 2-2 5, Ernest Brown 0 0 2-2 2, Jake Waldron 0 0 0-0 0, Colton Ervin 0 0 0-0 0, Andrew Richards 0 0 0-0 0, Tyler Walton 0 0 0-0 0, Nick Derrow 0 0 0-0 0, Lane Bunnell 1 0 0-0 2. Totals: 10-38 8-11 30. 3-point goals: 2-16. Rebounds: 6-17=23 (Courts 8). Team rebounds: 2. Assists: 4 (Craig 2). Steals: 8 (E. Brown 3). Turnovers: 20. Blocked shots: Courts 1. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None.