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Ironton pulls off upset over CG

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ senior guard Joel Blankenship (13) drives hard toward the basket as Coal Grove Hornets’ Alijah Roman defends. Ironton beat Coal Grove on Friday, 49-41. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

Someone forgot to tell the Ironton Fighting Tigers they weren’t supposed to win.
The youthful Fighting Tigers were facing the Coal Grove Hornets who had Gallipolis and Oak Hill as notches on their victory belt. But Ironton ignored the underdog role and picked up a 49-41 Ohio Valley Conference win on Friday.
“As physical as this game was, I thought this would be a struggle for us but the kids just stepped up for us,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon.
“We’re a five-win team, you just lost to South Point, you have no business being in this game. This is the best senior night I’ve had.”
Coal Grove (13-5, 8-4) lived by the 3-pointer and then died by it. The Hornets were 6-of-12 from the 3-point line in the first half and only 2-of-14 in the second half.
Ethan Wilson had a game-high 25 points as he hit three 3-pointers and was 8-of-10 at the line. He had six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Reid Carrico added 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Fighting Tigers who were without starters Charlie Large (injury) and Kyle Adkins (illness).
Sam Angelo had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Hornets. Cory Borders had nine points on three 3-pointers.
Ironton took a 4-0 lead on baskets by Wilson and Carrico, but the Hornets began the 3-point barrage.
Borders hit two 3-pointers while Angelo and Alijah Roman hit from the arc and the Hornets were up 12-8 at the end of the quarter.
Coal Grove opened up a 20-13 lead on a layup by Jalen McKenzie and 3-pointers by Angelo and Roman.
Wilson and Joel Blankenship each made two foul shots and a layup by Wilson cut the deficit to 21-19 with 2:53 left in the half.
“Joel’s a leader and he finds a way to make plays,” said LaFon about his lone senior.
Angelo hit a short baseline shot and Coal Grove was up 23-19 at the break.
A short jumper by Angelo and a 3-pointer by Border opened up a 28-22 lead. But Wilson and Carrico scored inside, Carrico made a foul shot and Wilson drained a long trifecta and Ironton led 30-28.
Jeb Jones converted a three-point play as Coal Grove regained the lead at 32-30. Blankenship made a foul shot but Jalen McKenzie drove for a layup and the Hornets were up 34-31 at the end of the quarter.
Wilson hit a 13-footer to start the fourth quarter and followed with a 3-pointer and Ironton took a 36-34 lead with 6:17 left. Carrico knocked down a 10-footer and the lead was 38-34.
Wilson converted a one-and-one before Aaron Music’s layup ended the 9-0 run and it was 40-36.
Wilson came up with a steal and fed Carrico for a layup and it was 43-36 with two minutes left. Angelo followed up his own shot to make it 43-38.
Angelo hit a step-back 3-pointer with 1:06 to play and got the Hornets within 43-41.
With the Hornets forced to foul, Hunter Humphreys was a clutch 3-of-4 from the line, Carrico made 2-of-4 and Wilson was 1-of-2 over the final 1:03 of the game.
Ironton finished the game 17-of-27 from the line including 9-of-17 in the fourth quarter.
On Tuesday, Coal Grove visits Portsmouth Notre Dame. On Wednesday, Ironton will play at Coal Grove.
Coal Grove    12    11    11    7    =    41
Ironton       8    11    12    18    =    49
COAL GROVE (13-5, 8-4): Aaron Music 1 0 0-0 2, Cory Borders 0 3 0-0 9, Jordan Case 0 0 0-0 0, Jeb Jones 1 0 1-3 3, Sam Angelo 3 3 1-2 16, Nate Harmon 0 0 1-2 1, Alijah Roman 0 2 0-0 6, Jalen McKenzie 2 0 0-0 4. Totals: 15-47 3-7 41. 3-pt goals: 8-26. Rebounds: 9-O, 18-D = 27 (Angelo 8, Jones 5, Music 5). Team rebounds: 1. Assists: 5 (Jones 2). Steals: 5 (Music 2). Turnovers: 10. Fouls: 21. Fouled out: None.
IRONTON (6-13, 4-8): Ethan Wilson 4 3 8-10 25, Joel Blankenship 0 1 3-6 6, Ayden Barnes 1 0 0-1 2, Hunter Humphreys 0 0 3-4 3, Reid Carrico 4 0 3-6 11. Trent Milleson 1 0 0-0 2, Ryan Payne 0 0 0-0 0, Collin Freeman 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-36 17-27 49. 3-pt goals: 4-8. Rebound: 10-O, 25-D = 35 (Carrico 11, Wilson 6, Humphreys 4). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 4 (Wilson 3). Steals: 4 (Wilson 2). Turnovers: 12. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: None.