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Defense sparks Ironton to D-3 district title

Ironton’s Trevor White (42) scores despite being pushed by Zane Trace’s Tyler Hinty (24) while going up for the shot. Ironton beat Zane Trace 69-45 to win the district title. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos.com)

Ironton’s Trevor White (42) scores despite being pushed by Zane Trace’s Tyler Hinty (24) while going up for the shot. Ironton beat Zane Trace 69-45 to win the district title. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos.com)

Jim Walker


ATHENS — When there is a problem, you find a solution.

Problem: Tyler Hinty had a hot hand in the first quarter. Solution: Defensive adjustment.

Ironton altered its defense and used Trevor White with help from Jake Long to shut down Hinty the rest of the game as the Fighting Tigers routed the Chillicothe Zane Trace Pioneers 69-45 Friday to win the Division III district championship.

Hinty scored 11 points in the first quarter but managed to take just one shot in the second quarter — a missed 3-pointer — as well as a putback in the third quarter and a 3-point play with just 3:19 to play.

“The kids did a good job making the adjustment,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon. “We played good sustained defense the whole game. I thought our defense was solid the entire game. It took us a while to get going on offense.”

Trey Fletcher scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Ironton. Zac Carter had 20 points, seven assists and three steals. White scored 11 points and pulled down four rebounds, but his defense proved to be more important.

“Coach LaFon told us before the game the kid was a shooter. The kid started out scoring a lot, so we switched defenses with me and Jake (guarding Hinty),” said White. “(Coach Lafon) told me to do it and I did it.”

Ironton is 21-2 following its 14th straight win and will now play in the regional semifinals at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday against Martins Ferry at the Ohio University Convocation Center. Martins Ferry (14-8) beat Sugarcreek Garaway 56-48.

The 8 p.m. game has Oak Hill playing Piketon. Winners advance to the regional title game at 7 p.m. on Saturday with the winners earning a berth to the state tournament.

Hinty finished with 16 points. Wes Beam had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Zane Trace (18-6).

Hinty’s 3-pointer at the three-minute mark of the first quarter gave the Pioneers their only lead of the game at 9-8.

But a layup by Fletcher, two free throws by Carter and a 3-point play by Fletcher put Ironton ahead for good at 15-9 with 2:02 left in the quarter.

Carter hit a baseline jumper only to have Hinty answer with a 3-pointer just before the buzzer leaving Ironton up 17-14.

“When you’re playing a team in the district finals you don’t expect to get a bunch of empty chairs. They’re going to be a pretty good team,” said LaFon.

“They can score, they can dribble, they can shoot and they shot the ball pretty good in the first half.”

With White and Long blanketing Hinty, Ironton went on a 15-3 run to begin the second quarter and opened up a 32-17 lead after Carter’s layup with 3:58 on the clock.

Eric Hutton followed up a missed shot and Pierce Mowery hit a 3-pointer as Zane Trace got within 32-22 at the half.

Hinty’s only basket in the third quarter cut the deficit to 35-28 with 5:21 on the clock. Leading 37-30, Ironton went on an 8-0 run including two layups by Fletcher to make it 45-30 with just 43 seconds left in the quarter.

Two foul shots by Carter with 4:37 to play gave the Fighting Tigers their biggest lead of the game at 61-36.

The district championship was the 14th for the Fighting Tigers.

“The thing about this team is how much they’ve matured as a group. The game got a little chippy and they pulled it together,” said LaFon.

“You could see just how much they enjoyed this district title. They were humbled by it. They were in the gym today looking at the banners with the past district titles. They were naming guys on those teams.”

Division III District Championship

Zanr Trace 14 8 10 13 = 45

Ironton 17 15 15 22 = 69

ZANE TRACE (18-6): Eric Hutton 2 0 0-0 4, Pierce Mowery 1 1 0-0 5, Connor Smith 2 0 2-2 6, Tyler Hinty 3 3 1-1 16, Wes Beam 4 0 2-3 10, Trey Rittenhouse 2 0 0-0 4, Walt Petzel 0 0 0-2 0, Nate Nesser 0 0 0-0 0, Nate Newman 0 0 0-0 0, Brian Hall 0 0 0-0 0 Nate Mettler 0 0 0-0 0, Shane Poling 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-48 5-8 45. 3-point goals: 4-14. Rebounds: 11 offense, 14 defense = 25 (Beam 10). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 5 (Hutton 3, Hinty 2). Steals: 3 (Hutton 3). Turnovers: 16. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: Smith (4th 2:53).

IRONTON (21-2): Zac Carter 8 0 4-4 20, Josh Glover 3 0 0-0 6, Trevor White 5 0 1-2 11, Trey Fletcher 8 1 5-5 24, Aaron Stephens 2 0 2-4 6, Darrius Boykin 0 0 0-0 0, Tristan Cox 0 0 0-0 0, Joe Bowling 0 0 0-0 0, Jake Long 1 0 0-0 2, Nate Garred 0 0 0-0 0, Jalen Schweickart 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 28-50 12-15 69. 3-point goals: 1-9. Rebounds: 10 offense, 18 defense = 28 (Fletcher 10, White 4, Glover 4). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 14 (Carter 7, Cox 2, White 2). Steals: 11 (Carter 3, White 2, Stephens 2). Turnovers: 6. Fouls: 10. Fouled out: None.