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Lady Fighting Tigers fall to Southeastern 61-55 in 3OT

Ironton’s Lexie Arden (44) gets one of her seven blocked shots as she foils Southeastern’s Ella Skeens’ attempt. Ironton lost 61-55 in triple overtime in the Division III district semifinals on Thursday. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Ironton’s Lexie Arden (44) gets one of her seven blocked shots as she foils Southeastern’s Ella Skeens’ attempt. Ironton lost 61-55 in triple overtime in the Division III district semifinals on Thursday. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

WAVERLY — Lady Luck wasn’t in attendance.
The Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers played more than well enough to win, but the breaks didn’t go their way as they lost a 61-55 triple overtime heartbreaker to the Southeastern Lady Panthers in the Division III district semifinals on Thursday.
Ironton battled the favored Lady Panthers’ size and depth advantage only to fall in what was an instant classic.
“You hear it all the time, ‘It’s a shame someone had to lose.’ Isn’t it a shame we had to lose,” said Ironton coach Doug Graham.
“Those girls put forth the effort to win. They played tough enough and hard enough to win. A couple of breaks didn’t go our way. You make your own breaks and credit that to Southeastern. They made the breaks.”
Ironton (18-6) made one big break that appeared to give them the momentum heading into the first overtime.
Trailing 45-42 and time running out, Lexie Arden banked in a 30-foot 3-pointer just before the buzzer to tie the game and send the game into overtime.
Ironton set up a final play during a timeout but the Lady Panthers’ defense forced the Lady Tigers to improvise.
“We did run a set out of that and we had several options out of that. The 30-foot 3 wasn’t an option but they kind of took (the other options) away. They were holding Syd (Webb) coming off (a screen). Her jersey was being tugged away. But in tournament basketball they’re not going to call everything,” said Graham.
“(Arden) made a big play. It wasn’t anything I did. Whenever she released it I said that has a chance to go in and sure enough it banked in. The one she took at the end of the second overtime (from halfcourt) looked like it could go in.”
Arden kept making plays the entire game. She had a game-high 21 points to go with 14 rebounds, seven blocked shots, three assists and two steals.
But Ironton got plenty of plays from the six girls who played.
Sydney Webb had 13 points including three 3-pointers along with five rebounds, three steals and two assists. Lexi Wise had 13 points, four rebounds, seven steals and three assists.
Alyssa Lewis added six rebounds and played well defensively against Southeastern’s Ella Skeens who came into the game averaging 22 points a game.
“(Arden) played tough. Lewis chased around their best player the whole night. Lexi Wise had a couple of big steals out on top. Sydney Webb has done those kind of things for us her whole career. I can’t say enough about (all the girls),” said Graham.
“Tai (Hamlet) came in and gave us good minutes. Riley (Schreck) gave us good minutes. They all played good. I can’t say anything negative at all. I never questioned how hard they played.”
Skeens finished with 16 points — just two in the first half — and 15 rebounds.
Audrie Wheeler scored 17 points to lead the Lady Panthers who won their 23rd game in a row. She also had eight rebounds.
Webb hit back-to-back trifectas to give Ironton a 6-2 lead and consecutive baskets by Arden had the lead at 14-9 with 2:19 left in the quarter.
But a layup by Mandy Morris tied the game at 16 to end the quarter.
The game was tied at 20 when McKinley Mitten made two straight baskets and Southeastern led 24-20.
Hamlet made layups off passes from Arden and Webb to close the half and Ironton trailed 26-24 at the break.
Arden hit two foul shots and Webb drained a 3-pointer as Ironton took a 29-28 lead. Southeastern then went on an 8-0 run before Webb’s layup halted the streak.
Ironton trailed 39-33 at the end of the quarter and Rachel Collins made two straight layups to begin the fourth quarter as Southeastern went up 43-33.
Arden and Lewis scored and Wise hit a 3-pointer to get Ironton within 43-40. Wheeler and Wise matched layups to bet up Arden’s clutch 3-pointer to end regulation.
A steal and layup by Wise gave Ironton a 51-49 lead before Skeens hit a short jumper with four seconds left to tie the game and forced a second overtime.
Each team scored four points in the second overtime when Wheeler missed a 3-point attempt. However, the ball went out of bounds and the officials made a questionable ruling that Ironton touched the ball that allowed Southeastern to keep possession.
However, Webb came up with a steal and the game was extended another four minutes.
“We were down several possessions and battled back. We hit an amazing 3 at the end of the fourth quarter,” said Graham.
“We had a couple of opportunities there with the girls taking shots we wanted taking shots and they just didn’t fall for us. It was a great game. Unfortunately we lost.”
Ironton was unable to made any of their four attempts in the third overtime while Morris had a putback and Skyler Hice had a layup and two foul shots to give the Lady Panthers the win.
Ironton was 24-of-65 from the field for 37percent and 2-of-8 from the foul line. Southeastern went 27-of-72 from the field for 37.5 percent and 4-of-10 at the line.
Southeastern will now play Eastern Brown in the district finals at 6:15 p.m. on Friday, March 3.
Ironton       16    8    9    12    6    4    0    =    55
Southeastern    16    10    13    6    6    4    6    =    61
IRONTON (18-6): Sydney Webb 2 3 0-0 13, Alyssa Lewis 1 0 0-0 2, Lexi Wise 5 1 0-5 13, Riley Schreck 1 0 0-0 2, Lexie Arden 8 1 2-2 21, Taiya Hamlet 2 0 0-0 4. Totals: 24-65 2-8 55. 3-point goals: 5-16. Rebounds: 16-O, 26-D = 42 (Arden 14, Lewis 6, Webb 5, Wise 4, Schreck 4). Team/deadball rebounds: 7. Assists: 10 (Arden 3, Wise 3, Webb 2, Schreck 2). Steals: 14 (Wise 7, Webb 4, Arden 3). Turnovers: 18. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: None.
SOUTHEASTERN (23-1): Kali Mitten 1 1 0-0 5, McKinley Mitten 2 0 0-2 4, Ella Skeens 6 1 1-4 16, Audrie Wheeler 7 1 0-0 17, Rachel Collins 4 0 1-2 9, Mandy Morris 2 0 0-0 4, Skylar Hice 2 0 2-2 6. Totals: 27-72 4-10 61. 3-point goals: 3-16. Rebounds: 22-O, 29-D = 51 (Skeens 15, Wheeler 8, Collins 8). Team/deadball rebounds: 8. Assists: 9 (Skeens 3, Wheeler 2). Steals: 6 (K. Mitten 2). Turnovers: 17. Fouls: 10. Fouled out: None.