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Ironton moves on after OT victory

Ironton’s Zac Carter goes up in traffic Saturday against the Eastern Brown Warriors. The Fighting Tigers won 66-61 to take the Division III district championship.

ATHENS — They call it “the clutch gene.”

Zac Carter came up with a clutch performance in the second half — especially in overtime — as the Ironton Fighting Tigers beat the Eastern Brown Warriors 66-61 on Saturday to win the Division III district championship at Ohio University.

Ironton struggled to find its offensive rhythm most of the game and squandered a 5-point lead in the final minute of regulation before taking control in overtime.

“Thank goodness for Zac Carter and thank goodness we started to rebound in the second half,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon. “Eastern Brown had a great game plan. They frustrated us.

“They weren’t getting the shots in rhythm in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t about our offense.”

With the win, Ironton (18-5) advances to the regional semifinals against Coshocton at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday at Ohio University. The district title was the 13th for Ironton.

“It felt awesome,” said Nolan Johnson, Ironton’s lone senior. “I couldn’t ask for better teammates. I love my players and I love my coaches.”

Ironton players, coaches and fans all showed some love for Carter who had 24 of his 28 points in the second half including 10 in overtime. He was 8 of 8 from the foul line in the extra period.

Trevor White also played well with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Ironton’s 6-foot-6 center Trey Fletcher had 11 points and eight rebounds despite missing most of the game in foul trouble.

“I felt bad for him,” said Lafon. “He came out aggressive. He was running up and down the floor. He was active. He had 11 points and eight rebounds and he probably played half the game.”

Chase Lawson had 19 points while Connor Purdin, Nathan Scott and Blake Doss scored 10 each for the Warriors (18-5).

Ironton trailed 19-18 at the half. Carter scored to start the third quarter and the lead changed hands four times with Eastern going up 39-36 at the end of the quarter.

A trifecta by Carter and a 3-point play by White put Ironton up 42-40 to open the fourth quarter. The Fighting Tigers opened up a 53-48 lead on two foul shots by Carter with 1:06 left in regulation.

The Warriors took advantage of two Ironton turnovers as they ran off five straight to tie the game 53-53 with 22 seconds left.

Carter took a 17-footer at the buzzer that rimmed around and out sending the game into overtime.

Carter then took over with two free throws, a layup and two more foul shots for a 59-53 lead. Josh Glover scored off a pass from Carter. He was fouled and converted the free throw for a 62-53 lead with 1:26 left,

“You get up by nine and think it’s over. But these are high school kids and it’s not,” said LaFon.

Eastern was within 62-58 on two foul shots by Lawson with 54 seconds to go, but Carter was 4 of 4 from the line to seal the outcome.

The offense in the first half moved at a snail’s pace as Eastern Brown worked to keep Ironton from running up and down the floor.

Ironton trailed 11-7 at the end of the first quarter. A put-back by Aaron Stephens gave Ironton a 13-12 lead in the second quarter. White had a layup and Johnson’s layup off a pass from Carter gave Ironton its biggest lead of the half at 17-12.

Eastern Brown used a triple by Lawson and a put-back by Purdin to tie the game.

Carter hit a free throw only to have Josh Boudreau make a layup to give Eastern a 19-18 halftime lead even though the ball appeared to still be in Boudreau’s hand when the buzzer sounded.


E. Brown 11 8 20 14 8 – 61

Ironton 7 11 18 17 13 – 66

EASTERN BROWN (18-5): Jordan Payne 2 0 0-0 4, Connor Purdin 5 0 0-0 10, Chase Lawson 1 3 8-10 19, Nathan Scott 4 0 2-4 10, Riley Prine 0 0 0-0 0, Blake Doss 0 3 1-2 10, Josh Bouderau 3 0 2-2 8. Team totals: 21-63 13-19 = 61. 3-point goals: 6-22. Rebounds: 19-24 = 43 (Scott 12, Lawson 11). Team rebounds 2. Assists: 5 (Payne 3). Steals: 6 (Purdin 2). Turnovers: 11. Blocked shots: 2. Fouls: 24. Fouled out: Purdin (1:34 4th).

IRONTON (18-5): Zac Carter 3 3 13-15 28. Trey Fletcher 4 1 0-0 11, Trevor White 6 0 3-6 15, Nolan Johnson 1 0 0-2 2, Josh Glover 2 0 1-1 5, Aaron Stephens 2 0 1-1 5, Tanner Dutey 0 0 0-0 0, Darrius Boykin 0 0 0-0 0, Joe Bowling 0 0 0-0 0. Team totals: 22-51 18-25 = 66. 3-point goals: 4-12. Rebounds; 9-25 = 34 (White 11, Fletcher 8). Team rebounds: 1. Assists: 9 (Carter 3, Fletcher 2). Steals: 5 (Johnson 2). Turnovers: 11. Blocked shots: 3. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: None.