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Ironton routs Martins Ferry 85-54 to reach Div. III regional finals

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ guard Josh Glover scores over Martins Ferry’s 6-foot-8 center Emilio Appolloni during an 85-54 Division III regional semifinal win on Wednesday. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos.com)

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ guard Josh Glover scores over Martins Ferry’s 6-foot-8 center Emilio Appolloni during an 85-54 Division III regional semifinal win on Wednesday. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos.com)

Jim Walker



ATHENS — The Ironton Fighting Tigers finally did what they were supposed to do in the second half. Zac Carter did the whole game what he usually does.

Ironton became more aggressive in the second half while Carter lit up the scoreboard with 37 points and the Fighting Tigers rode roughshod over the Martins Ferry Purple Riders 85-54 Wednesday in the Division III regional semifinals at Ohio University.

The Fighting Tigers turned an 11-point halftime lead into a rout in the third quarter as they moved within one step closer to reaching the state tournament.

Ironton coach Mark LaFon said Martins Ferry played a physical game in the first half and he challenged his team at halftime to match their physical play.

“I don’t think we did that in the first half and other than Zac driving we stopped attacking the basket,” said LaFon. “We shot four times inside in the first half. The big thing was we started attacking inside (in the second half). We didn’t do that in the first half.”

Ironton (22-2) will play Oak Hill at 7 p.m. Saturday in the regional championship game. The winner will advance to the state tournament to play at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday at the Schottenstein Center on the Ohio State University campus.

Oak Hill held on to beat Piketon 46-44 in the second game.

Ironton won 68-58 and 46-32 the past two years in the sectional tournament.

Carter not only pumped in 37 points, he also had seven steals, five assists and five rebounds. It was the senior guard’s top scoring performance in the tournament.

“I just kinda got used to the rims. I just kept shooting and my shots happened to fall,” said Carter.

“We didn’t play the way we should have (in the first half). Coach told us we weren’t doing the things we should.”

Carter’s performance drew high praise from LaFon who has become accustomed to these types of games.

“He’s a special kid and it would be easy to say he’s just gifted, but he’s earned it. He’s worked at it every day. He stays in the that gym seven days a week and I can’t say that enough. I want people to hear that,” said LaFon.

Ironton jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never trailed.

Martins Ferry (14-9) got within 17-16 on an 8-footer by Cody Schau with 5:51 left in the half.

But Carter’s steal led to a layup by Josh Glover, Fletcher drilled a triple, and Carter hit two foul shots and drained a trifecta of his own for a 27-16 lead with 3:55 on the clock.

Carter sank two foul shots with six seconds left in the half and it was 36-25 at the break.

“We stopped pressing in the second quarter, so we probably would’ve had more turnovers in the first half. But the way the game was going and the way we were having to play, it seemed like the press wasn’t really lending to our conditioning on the floor,” said LaFon.

Ironton came out strong in the third quarter and outscored the Purple Riders 31-14 in the third quarter as Carter scored 13 points and Fletcher 10.

A 3-point play by Trevor White at the 1:35 mark opened up a 60-37 lead. Tyler Strama made a layup for Martins Ferry, but Carter hit a trey and a layup and Joe Bowling’s putback just before the buzzer extended the lead to 67-39.

Robert Vargo hit a layup to start the fourth quarter for the Purple Riders, but Ironton went on a 9-5 run and it was 74-42 with 5:39 left, the Fighting Tigers’ biggest lead of the game.

Ironton’s lopsided win overshadowed a 32-point scoring effort by Schau for Martins Ferry. Tyler Strama added 10 points.

“(Schau) is a nice player. You don’t score 27 points a game and not be a good player. We wanted to make it as tough as possible on him,” said LaFon.

Ironton and Oak Hill have met twice. The two meetings have been in the sectional tournament the past two years with Ironton winning 46-32 in 2010-11 season and 68-58 last year.

Martins Ferry 10 15 14 15 = 54

Ironton 14 22 31 18 = 85

MARTINS FERRY (14-9): Jake Barritt 0 0 0-0 0, Robert Vargo 4 0 0-1 8, Cody Schau 13 1 3-4 32, Emilio Appolloni 1 0 0-0 2, Tyler Strama 4 0 2-2 10, Isaiah Sears 0 0 0-0 0, Arjay Burress 0 0 0-0 0, Dustin Schau 0 0 0-0 0, Lucas Agnew 0 0 0-0 0, Kyle Rine 0 0 0-0 0, Joel Schane 0 0 0-0 0, James Edwards 0 0 0-0 0, Josiah Burress 0 0 -0 0. Totals: 24-47 5-7 54. 3-point goals: 1-8. Rebounds: 11 offense, 15 defense = 26 (C. Schau 7, Cargo 6). Team rebounds: 5. Assists: 9 (C. Schau 4, Barritt 3). Steals: 1 (Appolloni). Turnovers: 20. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: None. Blocked shots: 2 (Strama 1, Appolloni 1).

IRONTON (22-2): Zac Carter 6 6 7-7 37, Josh Glover 1 0 0-0 2, Trevor White 3 0 2-3 8, Trey Fletcher 5 3 4-5 23, Aaron Stephens 0 0 -0 0, Tristan Cox 2 1 0-0 7, Darrius Boykin 1 0 0-0 2, Joe Bowling 2 0 0-0 4, Jake Long 0 0 0-1 0, Nate Garred 0 0 0-0 0, Trevor Easterling 0 0 0-0 0, Jalen Schweickart 0 0 0-0 0, Isaac Sherman 0 0 0-0 0, Richard Crockrel 1 0 0-0 2. Totals: 31-65 13-16 85. 3-point goals: 10-21. Rebounds: 19 offensive, 12 defensive = 31 (Fletcher 7, Stephens 6, Carter 5). Team rebounds: 1. Assists: 13 (Carter 5, White 2). Steals: 14 (Carter 7, White 2). Turnovers: 5. Blocked shots: 2 (White 2). Fouls: 10. Fouled out: None.