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Ironton falls short in upset bid of Gallipolis

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ Joel Blankenship (13) muscles his way through two Gallipolis players during Friday’s game. Blanekenship had 11 points in a 53-47 loss. (Photo Courtesy of Tim Gearhart)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

IRONTON — The Ironton Fighting Tigers know how to battle to the end. Now they just need to learn to get over the hump.
Ironton took heavily-favored Gallipolis to the end before losing to the Blue Devils 53-46 in an Ohio Valley Conference game on Friday.
“We played a good game tonight. They played like Fighting Tigers tonight. The competed in the right way. Joel Blankenship made a lot of hustle plays. There are no moral victories but we played hard,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon.
“Guys just stepped up and played. Their character showed tonight. Our kids showed tonight that they’re still battling. I’m really proud of our kids.”
Ethan Wilson had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Ironton (3-11, 1-7). Reid Carrico had 11 points and seven rebounds while Joel Blankenship scored 11.
Gallipolis (13-1, 7-1) was led by Cory Call with 18 points. Kaden Thomas came off the bench to hit four 3-pointers and score 16 points and Evan Wiseman had 14 points.
Gallipolis’ 7-foot-1 center Zach Loveday picked up his second foul with 2:52 left in the quarter and sat out the rest of the half. He played the entire second half but failed to score. He did have four blocked shots.
“We know (Thomas) is capable of hitting. We know Call can hit those step-back shots. You can’t stop everything,” said LaFon. “Loveday may not have been a factor statistically, but he does things you have to deal with.”
The Fighting Tigers were aggressive going to the basket and drawing fouls as they hit 17-of-25 free throws.
Gallipolis preferred the long-range shot. The Blue Devils were 8-of-19 from behind the arc.
Gallipolis got 3-pointers by Justin McClelland and Wiseman to start the game only to have Ironton go on an 8-0 run for the lead at the 2:33 mark on a basket by Carrico.
Wiseman hit a 3-pointer as Gallipolis regained the lead but Trent Milleson’s free throw tied the game.
Call scored to put the Blue Devils up only to have Blankenship hit a shot at the buzzer to tie the game at 11.
Carrico put Ironton up 12-11 on a foul shot to start the second quarter only to have the Blue Devils’ Thomas hit back-to-back 3-pointers and it was 17-12.
Ironton trailed 19-17 after a steal and layup by Wilson but Call hit two straight jumpers and the lead was 23-17.
Thomas hit his third 3-pointer of the quarter at the 1:30 mark and the lead was 26-20 and a layup just before the buzzer by Call made it 28-20 at the break.
Ironton got within 30-27 on a layup by Blankenship and a trifecta by Wilson at the 5:08 mark, but Wiseman converted a three-point, Call hit a baseline shot and Thomas hit another 3-pointer and it was 38-27.
Wilson hit a foul shot but Call hit pair of jumpers and it was 40-30 at the end of the quarter.
Wiseman hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter and it was 43-30.
Ironton rallied to get within 45-38 on two foul shots and a short-range jumper by Carrico over Loveday and two free throws by Wilson with 3:35 to play.
Thomas drove for a layup and Blankenship hit two free throws and it was 47-40.
A putback by Wilson had Ironton down 49-46, but Thomas converted a one-and-one with 14.8 seconds left and McClelland added two more free throws with four seconds left to seal the win.
On Tuesday, Ironton hosts Rock Hill and Gallipolis is at Coal Grove.
Gallipolis    11    17    12    13    =    53
Ironton       11    9    10    16    =    46
GALLIPOLIS (13-1, 7-1): Caleb Henry 0 0 0-0 0, Evan Wiseman 2 3 1-2 14, Justin McClelland 0 1 2-2 5, Cory Call 8 0 2-2 18, Zach Loveday 0 0 0-0 0, Blake Carter 0 0 0-0 0, Kaden Thomas 0 4 2-3 16, Logan Blour 0 0 0-2 0, Gage Harrison 0 0 0-0 0, Cole Davis 0 0 0-0 0, Bailey Walker 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-41 7-11 53. 3-pt goals: 8-19. Rebounds: 8-O, 21-D = 30 (Thomas 6, McClelland 5, Wiseman 4). Assists: 3 (Wiseman 2). Steals: 1 (Wiseman). Blocks: 5 (Loveday 4). Turnovers: 16. Fouls: 18.  Fouled out: None.
IRONTON (3-12, 1-7): Ethan Wilson 5 1 4-7 17, Joel Blankenship 3 0 5-6 11, Evan Barnes 0 0 0-0 0, Hunter Humphreys 0 0 1-2 1, Reid Carrico 4 0 3-4 11, Kyle Adkins 1 0 1-2 3, Trent Milleson 0 0 3-4 3, Ryan Payne 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-47 17-25 46. 3-pt goals: 1-6. Rebounds: 19-O, 13-D = 32 (Wilson 11, Carrico 7, Humphreys 5, Milleson 4). Team rebounds: 1. Assists: 3. Steals: 10 (Wilson 3, Blankenship 3, Humphreys 2). Blocks: 2 (Adkins, Wilson). Turnovers: 8. Fouls: 12. Fouled out: None.