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Ironton girls looking to go beyond unbeaten season

Jim Walker

jim.walker@irontontribune.com

 

What started with a simple win over Chillicothe steamrolled into something bigger than ever imagined.

After the Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers won their season opener, they continued to win. And win and win and win.

Monday night’s 82-48 win over the Rock Hill Redwomen brought the regular season to and end and the end result was the program’s first-ever unbeaten record at 22-0.

Ironton head coach Doug Graham knew there was a lot of talent, especially with four starters returning. But he admitted that going unbeaten didn’t really enter his mind.

“At the beginning of the season, I knew we were going to be good, but you never really think about 22-0 until you get two, three, four games left,” said Graham.

“As cliché as it sounds, I just wanted to take them one game and then just try to work on the next game and try to get better.”

Although the Lady Tigers got great play from junior shooting sensation Sydney Webb and lightning quick sophomore point guard Lexie Wise, Ironton’s unbeaten season was keyed by the leadership on and off the court of the team’s four seniors.

The unbeaten season meant two things senior forward Cheyenne Scott wasn’t sure could ever happen.

“Going 22-0 feels like a great accomplishment. We’ve tried for four years and now it’s finally paid off. It’s no better feeling, honestly, with a great group of girls and my best friends and a great team,” said Scott who then admitted the second improbable item.

“I’m pretty speechless.”

Senior Lexie Barrier – who has signed with James Madison University — said it was a surreal experience but was looking ahead beyond the regular season to the Division III tournament.

“It’s kind of mind blowing but not really because you always think you want to do that and it seems kind of not impossible but close to impossible when you first think about it. Now it just feels great,” said Barrier.

“Right now, a new season is about to start so we’re trying to go undefeated twice. That’s what we’re working for.”

Senior guard Jordan Hannan echoed Barrier’s sentiments and said it was aided by team unity that included great play off the bench from junior Alyssa Lewis, D’Lanie Keith and Zakia Lee.

“I love it. My gosh, I love it. But we’re not finished. We’re going to try to go undefeated again. This is just practice for the tournament,” said Hannan.

“It was fun. It brought us closer together, but we still have seven more games.”

Ironton plays at 1 p.m. on Saturday in the sectional finals at Rock Hill High School after drawing a first round bye.

Senior center Kaylin Easterling was happy with the accomplishment but like her teammates — remained unfulfilled.

“It’s been a really good experience. It’s really fun and it made history and that was a really big deal. I’m just excited to go on and maybe do two undefeated seasons,” said Easterling.

Graham felt that the ultimate goal of trying to win a state championship took the pressure off going unbeaten and kept the team more even keel and focused.

He also noted that going unbeaten in the regular season has no bearing on the tournament.

“The regular season is just a 22-step process to get better for the tournament. The great thing about basketball is everybody is zero and zero right now, so that’s one thing I’ve got to remind the girls it’s a brand new season so you have to go undefeated again,” said Graham.