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Fighting Tigers claw Wesley Christian for 73-53 win

Ironton's Desmond Young (42) helped the Fighting Tigers battled taller Wesley Christian virtually even on the boards in a 73-53 win on Thursday. It was Ironton's first win of the season. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos.com)

Ironton’s Desmond Young (42) helped the Fighting Tigers battled taller Wesley Christian virtually even on the boards in a 73-53 win on Thursday. It was Ironton’s first win of the season. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos.com)

Jim Walker

jim.walker@irontontribune.com

 

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — It’s been nice shot but no cigar lately for Ironton. This time, the Fighitng Tigers didn’t need the cigar because they were smokin’ on their own.

Injuries to starters and key backups coupled with a grueling schedule had made Ironton’s task of winning difficult this season.

The Fighting Tigers have been healthy the past few weeks but the schedule remains tough. They faced another tough game Thursday, only this time the results were different.

After losing all 15 of their previous games of the season, Ironton beat the Wesley Christian Circuit Riders 73-53 Thursday in the St. Joseph Invitational Classic at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

“Let’s not make more out of this than what it is, but that was a huge win for us,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon. “We could have won any of the last three games against three quality opponents.”

Joe Bowling scored 19 points, Tristan Cox had 13 points and five assists, Nate Garred scored 10 points, and Phillip Kratzenberg and Desmond Young had nine points each.

Melick McDonald had 15 points and Josh Amuzu 14 for Wesley Christian (23-7).

“We played good, balanced basketball,” said LaFon. “Tristan is playing well because of the position he is in. Joe is getting his legs.

A key for Ironton was on the glass against the taller Riders who held a scant 37-36 advantage.

Bowling had 14 rebounds, Cox six and Young five. Abraham Onyebuch and McDonald had 10 each for Wesley.

“We felt if we ere even that was a win for us. Every kid did a good job blocking out. Rebounding and a consistent pace were the key,” said LaFon.

A trifect by Cox and a layup by Young gave Ironton a 16-8 first quarter lead.

Bowling’s triple to begin the second quarter put the lead at 19-8 and the lead fluctuated between 8-to-10 points throughout the second quarter.

Two foul shots each by Garred and Bowling had the lead at 31-21 before Kevin Osundu’s 12-footer just before the half got the Riders within 31-23 at the break

A short jumper by Onyebuch cut the lead to 33-29 at the 5:52 mark of the third quarter.

But Ironton began to stretch the lead over the final three minutes. Bowling scored 12 points in the quarter including a trey with 55 seconds on the clock for a 50-37 lead. But McDonald’s 3-pointer had the Riders down 50-42 at the end of the quarter.

Cox scored six unanswered points to start the fourth quarter, Richard Crockrel made a layup off a pass from Kratzenberg, Marques Davis hit a foul shot and Garred’s layup opened up a 61-42 lead with 4:42 to play.

Ironton led by as many as 22 points down the stretch.

Wesley Christian 8 15 19 11 = 53

Ironton 16 15 19 23 = 73

WESLEY CHRISTIAN (23-7): Josh Amuzu 2 1 7-7 14, Kevin Osundu 2 0 0-0 4, Thomas Hall 4 0 1-5 9, Abraham Onyebuch 3 0 2-2 8, Melik McDonald 2 3 2-2 15, Zac Clark 0 0 0-0 0, Shane Salyer 1 0 1-3 3, Corey Dillon 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-56 13-19 53. 3-point goals: 4-26. Rebounds: 12-OR, 25-DR = 37 (Onyebuche 10, McDonald 10. Team/deadball rebounds: 4. Assists: 3. Steals: 6 (Hall 2, McDonald 2). Turnovers: 25. Fouls: 19. Fouled out: None.

IRONTON (1-15): Tristan Cox 4 1 2-4 13, Joe Bowling 4 3 2-2 19, Phillip Kratzenberg 2 1 2-2 9, Desmond Young 4 0 1-2 9, Isaac Sherman 1 0 0-1 2, Richard Crockrel 1 0 0-0 2, Nate Garred 3 0 4-4 10, Lucas Campbell 0 0 0-0 0, Marques Davis 2 0 2-4 6, Hunter Klaiber 0 0 0-0 0, Joe Matkins 0 0 0-0 0, Logan Gleichauf 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 27-56 14-21 73. 3-point goals: 5-9. Rebounds: 8-OR, 28-DR = 36 (Bowling 14, Cox 6, Young 5). Team/deadball rebounds: 3. Assists: 12 (Cox 5, Kratzenberg 3). Steals: 9 (Kratzenberg 2, Davis 2). Turnovers: 14. Fouls: 19. Fouled out: Sherman (4th 4:21).