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Ironton battles but falls to Huntington

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

When introducing the Ironton starting lineup, maybe the announcer should add, “Gentlemen, start your engines.”
Ironton got off to yet another slow start and was forced to battle back from a double-digit deficit. The Fighting Tigers did battle back only to fall to the West Virginia Class 3A defending state champion Huntington Highlanders 56-49 on Thursday.
“I thought we were trending in positive ways. We had a very bad start. They battled and they executed in a lot of right areas,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon.
“I was happy that they bounced back twice.”
Ironton (2-6) fell behind by 16 points in the second quarter and by 12 points on several other occasions but still got within six points twice.
The balanced Fighting Tigers’ offense was led by Ethan Wilson and Charlie Large with 12 points each while Kyle Adkins had 10 points and Reid Carrico had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Ironton shot just 1-of-6 in the first quarter and had six of its 16 turnovers. The FIghitng Tigers had 10 turnovers in the first half.
“We’re trying to address everything we can. We have to handle the press. It’s something we have to get better at. It’s really us making poor decisions rather than not being able to handle (the other team’s) athletes,” said LaFon.
Huntington (3-2) was led by Mikael Dawson with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Darnell Wright added 10 points.
A layup by Joel Blankenship got Ironton even at 2-2 only to have Huntington go on an 11-0 run. Large made two foul shots with four seconds left and it was 13-4.
The Highlanders were up 22-6 after a 3-pointer by Kris Brown and a basket by Wright.
Wilson converted a three-point play, Adkins hit a trifecta, Wilson had a layup and Adkins a putback as Ironton was down 22-16.
But Dawson hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Huntington was up 28-16 at the half.
Layups by Wilson and Large to begin the second half made it 28-20 before Huntington took a 36-23 lead on a 3-pointer by Brown.
Carrico had two putbacks to end the quarter — the second just before the buzzer — and it was 36-27.
A steal and layup by Wilson, a free throw by Hunter Humphreys and a layup by Large got Ironton within 36-32 with 6:15 left.
The Highlanders went back in front 50-38 before Wilson, Adkins and Large hit 3-pointers down the stretch to close the gap. But the Highlanders were 10-of-17 at the line as Ironton was forced to foul.
Ironton visits Rock Hill on Friday, Jan. 5.
Huntington    13    15    8    20    =    56
Ironton       4    12    11    22    =    49
HUNTINGTON (3-2): Jaden Hayes 0 0 3-4 3, Bryce Demos 1 0 1-2 3, Andrew Shull 2 1 0-0 7, Mikael Dawson 4 2 5-6 19, Amari Smith 2 0 0-2 4, Darnell Wright 5 0 0-2 10, Tanner Stevens 0 0 2-4 2, Kris Brown 1 2 0-0 8. Totals: 20-46 11-20 56. 3-pt goals: 5-16. Rebounds: 11-O, 15-D = 26 (Dawson 10). Team rebounds: 5. Assists: 5. Steals: 8 (Dawson 3, Hayes 2). Turnovers: 13. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: Smith (4th 3:49).
IRONTON (2-6): Ethan Wilson 4 1 1-1 12, Kyle Adkins 2 2 0-0 10, Charlie Large 3 1 3-4 12, Joel Blankenship 2 0 0-0 4, Reid Carrico 3 0 4-6 10, Hunter Humphreys 0 0 1-2 1, Ayden Barnes 0 0 0-0 0, Ryan Payne 0 0 0-0 0, Trent Milleson 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-44 9-13 49. 3-pt goals: 4-12. Rebounds: 10-O, 16-D = 26 (Carrico 12). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 3. Steals: 6 (Wilson 3). Turnovers: 16. Fouls: 19. Fouled out: None.