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Fighting Tigers fall on last-second shot, 57-55

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ senior guard Phil Kratzenberg (4) drives past the Ashland Tomcats’ defense for two points. Kratzenberg scored 29 points in a 57-55 loss on Friday. (Tim Gearhart of Tim’s News & Novelties, Park Ave. in Ironton)

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ senior guard Phil Kratzenberg (4) drives past the Ashland Tomcats’ defense for two points. Kratzenberg scored 29 points in a 57-55 loss on Friday. (Tim Gearhart of Tim’s News & Novelties, Park Ave. in Ironton)

Jim Walker

jim.walker@irontontribune.com

 

ASHLAND, Ky. — The game came down to the final shot. And then again, it didn’t come down to the final shot.

While Ashland’s Christian Villers managed to hit a short runner with one second left to give the Tomcats a 57-55 win over Ironton, the Fighting Tigers probably lost the game a lot earlier.

“The last shot I have no qualms. We sent two guys at it. We’re in position where we’re supposed to be. We’re in position to block out and he hits a big shot. We shouldn’t have been in that position,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon.

“We turn it over two times in a row (just before the half), we’re 3-for-9 at the line, and missed three front ends of one-and-ones that makes it even worse. The rebound differential we should have been the winner on that and we lose by eight or nine.”

Ironton was outrebounded 28-24 and had just four offensive boards. The Fighting Tigers were 23-of-42 from the field and 6-of-13 from behind the arc.

The loss spoiled a 29-point performance by Ironton’s Phil Kratzenberg who made 12-of-17 field goal attempts including 5-of-8 from the 3-point line.

Charlie Large came off the bench to score 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting.

“Phillip had a good game and we have some kids who can score a little bit. I’m not saying we’re an offensive juggernaut, but we can put some points on the board when needed. We still have a lot to learn,” said LaFon.

Villers had 19 points while Noah Roberts and Chase Villers scored 11 each for Ashland (2-1).

Ironton (2-1) trailed 44-43 going into the fourth quarter. A basket by Ryan Bryant put Ironton up 45-44 as the lead traded hands three times and was tied twice the rest of the way.

Ashland was up 51-47 when Kratzenberg drained a trifecta with 5:34 left. A layup by Large and a foul shot by Ethan Wilson with 4:22 left tied the game at 53.

Roberts went across and down the lane for a layup with 1:26 left and Ashland was up 55-53.

Kratzenberg answered with a 12-footer at the 1:08 mark and the game was tied again.

Ironton had a chance to take the lead but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 18 seconds left allowing Ashland to set up for the last shot.

Ashland led 20-11 early in the second quarter before Large tied the game at 20 and two foul shots by Bryant gave Ironton the lead at 24-23 with 1:31 left in the half.

It was the Fighting Tigers first lead since 2-0.

But the Tomcats took advantage of three straight Ironton turnovers to go up 30-24 at the half.

Ashland led 39-31 with three minutes left in the third quarter when Ironton stormed back on 8 points by Kratzenberg including a pair of treys and a 10-footer by Large.

LaFon said his young and inexperienced team still has a lot of work ahead.

“The free throw shooting would be OK if it was a couple of guys who couldn’t shoot free throws. These are guys who can hit free throws and that was the frustrating thing in this game. It’s that simple. Rebounding, free throws and turnovers,” said LaFon.

Ironton hosts Fairland on Tuesday in a key Ohio Valley Conference game.

Ironton 6 18 19 12 = 55

Ashland 13 17 14 13 = 57

IRONTON (2-1): Phil Kratzenberg 7 5 29, Ethan Wilson 0 0 1-5 1, Marques Davis 1 1 0-0 5, Desmond Young 0 0 0-0 0, Tyler Webb 1 0 0-0 2, Charlie Large 7 0 0-0 14, Ryan Bryant 1 0 2-2 4, Hunter Klaiber 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-42 3-9 55. 3-point goals: 6-13. Rebounds: 4-O, 20-D = 24 (Young 6, Webb 4, Large 4). Assists: 8 (Wilson 3, Young 2). Steals: 5. Turnovers: 16. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: None.

ASHLAND (2-1): Chase Villers 2 2 1-2 11, Noah Roberts 5 0 1-1 11, Hunter Copley 2 0 0-0 4, Josh Bradley 1 0 2-2 4, Christian Villers 7 1 2-2 19, Ryan Khounlavong 0 0 0-0 0, Dillon Lucas 1 1 0-0 5, Kurklen Brown 0 1 0-0 3, Devaunte Robinson 0 0 0-1 0. Totals: 23-50 6-8 57. 3-point goals: 5-10. Rebounds: 10-O, 18-D = 28 (Roberts 5, Copley 5, Bradley 5). Team rebounds: 2. Assists: 5 (Bradley 2, Chr. Villers 2). Steals: 5 (Bradley 2, Brown 2). Turnovers: 12. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: None.