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Defense keys Lady Tigers win over Wheelersburg

Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ senior point guard Lexi Wise (with ball) splits two Wheelersburg Lady Pirates’ defenders as she scores two points. Ironton beat the Lady Pirates 44-37 on Thursday. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos.com)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

The Ironton side of the scorebook doesn’t concern coach Doug Graham as much as the opponent’s side of the book.
When Graham sees few points from good defense, he’s much more impressed and Graham was impressed after the Lady Fighting Tigers beat the Wheelesburg Lady Pirates 44-37 on Thursday.
“We won this game on defense. I told them at halftime ‘you’re going to win this game on defense.’ And they won this game on defense. It was a good win against a good team,” said Graham.
“We played phenomenal. I’m proud of the way they showed some fight. Lexi Wise, Lexie Arden should get the brunt of our praise, but Ellie Williams may not have even scored but she was locked in on them (defensively).”
Wheelersburg was just 12-of-44 from the field for 27 percent and 4-of-17 from the 3-point line.
On the offensive side, Lexie Arden had 20 points — she was 10-of-11 at the foul line — along with 13 rebounds and three blocked shots to lead Ironton (17-5).
Senior Lexi Wise celebrated her final game on the home court with seven points, nine rebounds and three assists. Riley Schreck had eight points including two 3-pointers.
Wheelersburg (16-5) was led by Kaylee Darnell with 14 points and Leann Spradlin with nine points and five rebounds. Abbie Kallner had eight points and five rebounds and Mallory Bergan also had five boards.
Both teams played a patient game on offense which reflected in the scoring.
The game was tied twice to start the game when Arden had a putback and Lydia Hannan hit a 3-pointer to give Ironton a 9-4 lead.
Darnell made a 3-pointer as Wheelersburg cut the deficit to 9-7 at the end of the quarter.
A 3-pointer by Darnell and two foul shots by Ellie Ruby put the Lady Pirates up 12-9.
Kallner hit a 12-footer and Darnell made two foul shots for a 16-11 lead.
“There were two times in the game we could have folded. When it was 16-11 and when they cut it to two,” said Graham. “I thought, ‘Oh gosh, here we go.’ I look at my young ones and said OK, time for you to step up.”
And step up they did.
Wise converted a three-point play, Schreck buried a trifecta and Arden connected on two foul shots and Ironton led 19-16 at the 4:05 mark.
Kallner scored to make it 19-18 but Wise had back-to-back layups and it was 23-18 at the break.
Arden and Darnell traded basket to start the second half and then Schreck drained another 3-pointer for a 28-20 lead.
Darnell’s 10-footer made it 28-11but Haylee Stevens’ 19-footer and a 15-footer by Arden put the lead at 32-23 at the end of the quarter.
Ellie Ruby and Spradlin hit back-to-back 3-pointers to begin the fourth quarter and the Lady Pirates were down 32-30.
A 12-footer by Hannan, a layup by Arden off a nice pass from Schreck and a 17-footer by Arden opened up a 38-31 lead with 1:17 to play.
Wheelersburg began to foul and Arden went to the line four times and was a clutch 6-of-7 at the free throw line.
Ironton will play Rock Hill at 6:15 p.m. next Thursday in the Division III sectional tournament at Jackson.
Wheelersburg    7    11    6    13    =    37
Ironton       9    14    9    12    =    44
WHEELERSBURG (16-5): Kaylee Darnell 3 2 2-2 14, Ellie Ruby 0 1 2-2 5, Abbie Kallner 3 0 2-2 8, Mallory Bergan 0 0 1-4 1, Leann Spradlin 2 1 2-4 9, Ellie Kallner 0 0 0-2 0, Bella Williams 0 0 0-0 0, Paige Emnett 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12-44 9-16 37. 3-pt goals: 4-17. Rebounds: 9-O, 19-D = 28 (A. Kallner 5, Bergan 5, Spradlin 5). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 3. Steals: 4 (Darnell 2). Turnovers: 11. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: None.
IRONTON (17-5): Riley Schreck 1 2 0-1 8, Lexi Wise 3 0 1-1 7, Lydia Hannan 2 1 0-0 7, Elli Williams 0 0 0-0 0, Lexie Arden 5 0 10-11 20, Haylee Stevens 1 0 0-0 2, Katie Boyer 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-39 11-13 44. 3-pt goals: 3-10. Rebounds: 5-O, 25-D = 30 (Arden 13, Wise 9). Assists: 7 (Wise 3, Williams 2). Steals: 3. Blocks: 3 (Arden 3). Turnovers: 14. Fouls: 10. Fouled out: None.