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Panthers notch key OVC victory

Jim Walker



CHESAPEAKE — Only the strong survive.

The Chesapeake Panthers had to play strong against a strong Ironton team and they managed to pull away in the fourth quarter to a 45-36 Ohio Valley Conference win on Friday over the Fighting Tigers.

The Panthers got beat on the boards 33-22, but they were able to force 15 turnovers while committing only seven as they remained in the OVC title chase.

“We hurt our scoring average tonight but we helped our defensive average,” said Panthers’ coach Ryan Davis.

“Obviously, Ironton’s a little bigger and stronger than we are all across the floor. I thought our kids did a good job playing strong and playing within themselves for the most part. We weren’t perfect at all on the offensive end, but defensively we were pretty good, solid, scrapped. It was a great team effort.”

Gage Rhoades had a game-high 21 points to lead the Panthers (8-2, 4-1). Brad Meadows grabbed seven rebounds.

Phil Kratzenberg led Ironton (4-6, 1-3) with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. Desmond Young and Tyler Webb had five rebounds each.

Chesapeake went on an 8-0 run to start the game and led 19-4 early in the second quarter when Brad Meadows followed up his own missed shot at the 6:08 mark.

But Ironton rallied as Phil Kratzenberg hit three straight trifectas that cut the deficit to 21-17 at the half.

“The second quarter was stagnant at times, it was a little too fast-paced at times, it just wasn’t ideal,” said Davis.

“It was the first game Jake Stevens was back starting and I thought he looked good tonight and I thought Casey McComas looked great coming off the bench and giving us a spark and good leadership.”

Ironton came out got a runner in the lane by Kratzenberg and a layup by Webb off a pass from Ethan Wilson to tie the game at 21 with 5:11 left in the third quarter.

Stevens made two straight layups for a four-point lead, but Wilson and Ty Gunther made layups as Ironton tied the game at 25-all to end the quarter.

“We made some mistakes early and fell behind, then we battled our tails off and got even. Hats off to Chesapeake. They are tough to beat at their place and they played well,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon.

Chesapeake came out the fourth quarter and went on the decisive 10-0 run as Rhoades and Stevens each hit 3-pointers and Rhoades and Meadows had layups to make it 35-25 with four minutes to play.

A triple by Ryan Bryant cut the deficit to 39-31 with 1:28 on the clock. A trey by Kratzenberg with 15 seconds to go made it 43-36.

Ironton was forced to foul and the Panthers were just 1-of-4 from the line, but the Fighting Tigers couldn’t capitalize.

On Tuesday, Ironton hosts South Point and Chesapeake entertains Coal Grove in OVC games.

Ironton 4 13 8 11 = 36

Chesapeake 15 6 4 20 = 45

IRONTON (4-6, 1-3): Phil Kratzenberg 2 4 0-2 16, Marques Davis 1 0 0-0 2, Desmond Young 2 0 0-0 4, Ryan Bryant 2 1 1-2 8, Tyler Webb 1 0 0-2 2, Ethan Wilson 1 0 0-0 2, Ty Gunther 1 0 0-0 2, Hunter Humphreys 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-40 1-6 36. 3-point goals: 5-18. Rebounds: 8-O, 25-D = 33 (Kratzenberg 8, Webb 5, Young 5). Team rebounds: 6. Assists: 8 (Kratzenberg 4). Steals: 4 (Kratzenberg 3). Turnovers: 15. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: None.

CHESAPEAKE (8-2, 4-1): Jake Stevens 2 1 1-2 8, Kolton Webb 1 2 0-0 8, Gage Rhoades 5 2 5-6 21, Brad Meadows 3 0 0-2 6, Wes Stephens 0 0 0-0 0, Austin Hutchison 0 0 1-2 1, Casey McComas 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-43 7-12 45. 3-point goals: 5-13. Rebounds: 5-O, 17-D = 22 (Meadows 7). Team rebounds: 6. Assists: 5 (Stevens 2, Webb 2). Steals: 11 (Rhoades 3, Stephens 3). Turnovers: 7. Fouls: 9. Fouled out: None.