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Ironton, Portsmouth seek state berth in regional title game

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ junior guard Zac Carter leaps into the air as he scores two of his 21 points in the 49-48 regional semifinal win over Coshocton. (The Ironton Tribune / Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

 

ATHENS — The first two were for pride. This one is for keeps.

Ironton beat Portsmouth 66-52 at home early in the regular season. Portsmouth returned the favor with a 59-53 win at home.

The rubber match is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Division III regional championship at Ohio University with the winner advancing to the state tournament.

Ironton (19-5) beat Coshocton 49-48 in the semifinals while Portsmouth topped Chesapeake 53-45.

Saturday’s winner will play in the state semifinals at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Schottenstein Center on the Ohio State University campus against the winner of Friday’s game between Lima Catholic (22-2) and Ottawa-Glandorf (18-6).

Lima Catholic won the state title two years ago including a win over Chesapeake in the state semifinals.

The state finals are 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 24.

Portsmouth won the regional title last year only to lose in the state semifinals. The Trojans have 24 state tournament appearances including four titles and three runners-up.

Ironton reached the state tournament in 1994 and 2005 when they were state runners-up to North College Hill with O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker.

Portsmouth is led by 6-foot-6 senior center and Southeast District Co-Player of the Year Dion McKinley who averages 19 points and 11 rebounds. Wayne Evans — a 6-2 senior guard — is second on the team in scoring at 16 points to go with 7.0 assists and 3.0 steals.

Ironton is led by 5-8 junior guard Zac Carter with 22.2 points and 4-2 assist per outing, 6-6 junior center Trey Fletcher with 19.2 points and 7.8 rebounds and 6-4 junior forward Trevor White who averages 11.1 points and 6.6 rebounds.