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Ironton uses strong ‘D’ to win D3 sectional final

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ Reid Carrico (20) muscles his way inside for a layup in a 44-25 win over Oak Hill on Friday in the Division III sectional championship game. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker

JACKSON — Basketball is a simple game. The team making the most shots wins the game.
The Ironton Fighting Tigers made the most shots Friday night in the Division III sectional tournament championship game.
Ironton made 15 baskets for the game to just eight for Oak Hill as the Fighting Tigers beat the Oaks 44-25 to win their first sectional title since 2015 and only the second in the past six seasons.
“I’m happy for them boys. That’s a big thing,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon about his team winning the sectional, the first sectional title for the senior class.
Ironton (18-6) will play Adena at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 2, in the district semifinals at Ohio University’s Convocation Center.
The Oaks rely on their inside duo of Mason Darby and Chase Hammond. Ironton’s defense paid more attention to the pair and forced the remaining players to beat them.
They didn’t.
Darby finished with nine points and seven rebounds before fouling out with 5:11 to play. Hammond had only six points and four rebounds.
Oak Hill (18-6) was a dismal 8-of-41 from the field for 19.5 percent including a woeful 2-of-23 from the 3-point line.
“There was one point Darby got his fourth foul and I didn’t even notice. I was focused on us playing defense. They did one miraculous job defensively,” said LaFon.
Oak Hill had trouble on the boards as well. Ironton allowed only nine offensive rebounds and just two in the first half as the Oaks spent the game on offense going one-and-done.
A driving layup by Darby gave Oak Hill a 2-0 lead but Ironton went on an 12-0 run to finish out the quarter.
Charlie Large opened the second quarter with a 17-footer and a driving layup and then Reid Carrico made a layup off a Jordan Grizzle pass and the lead was 18-2.
After the Oaks missed 11 straight shots, Darby finally hit a 3-pointer at the 4:25 mark and then both Darby and Drew Hanning had layups to cut the deficit to 18-9.
But the Oaks would get no closer.
Grizzle took over and buried back-to-back 3-pointers as Ironton went up 24-9 at the break.
In the first half, Ironton made 10-of-23 shots for 44 percent and 3-of-10 attempts from beyond the arc. The Oaks were only 4-of-18 from the floor for 22 percent and 1-of-11 from the 3-point line.
Large hit a 15-footer to begin the second half and then a steal and nice pass by Grizzle lying on the floor led to a Large layup and a 28-9 lead.
Hanning’s 3-pointer made it 30-13 but Trent Milleson made two straight short jumpers and the lead was 34-14 at the end of the quarter.
LaFon praised the performance of the “other” players who handled their roles impressively.
“Our fourth, fifth, sixth guys are really stepping up. They’re not leaving it all on Ethan and Charlie and Reid,” said LaFon.
“(Ayden) Barnes got a couple of big offensive rebounds. We told (Milleson) we need him to be a big rebounder. (Hunter) Humphreys got some big rebounds.”
The game was never in doubt and Ironton went 8-of-10 from the foul line in the fourth quarter — Large was 6-of-6 — to negate any Oak Hill hopes of a comeback.
Large had 18 points and Grizzle 10 to pace the Ironton offense. Carrico had six rebounds with Barnes and Large getting five each. Grizzle also had three assists had Humphreys two steals.
Ironton 12 12 10 10 = 44
Oak Hill 2 7 5 11 = 25
IRONTON (17-6): Ethan Wilson 0 0 0-0 0, Jordan Grizzle 0 3 1-2 10, Reid Carrico 2 0 0-0 4, Charlie Large 6 0 6-6 18, Ayden Barnes 0 0 0-0 0, Trent Milleson 2 0 3-4 7, Hunter Humphreys 1 0 0-0 2, Collin Freeman 1 0 1-1 3, Erickson Barnes 0 0 0-0 0, Trent Hacker 0 0 0-0 0, Will York 0 0 0-0 0, Richard Thompson 0 0 0-0 0, Braden Easterling 0 0 0-0 0, Braxton Pringle 0 0 0-0 0, Riley Boggs 0 0 0-0 0. Totals 15-38 11-13 44. 3-pt goals: 3-11. Rebounds: 10-, 25-D = 35 (Carrico 6, A. Barnes 5, Large 5). Team rebounds: 4. Assists: 9 (Grizzle 3, Wilson 2). Steals: 4 (Humphreys 2). Turnovers: 13. Fouls: 10. Fouled out: None.
OAK HILL (18-6): Mason Darby 3 1 0-3 9, Eric Kallner 0 0 0-0 0, Chase Hammond 1 0 3-6 5, Drew Hanning 1 1 2-2 7, Caden Harden 0 0 0-0 0, Keaton Potter 1 0 0-0 2, Noah Donley 0 0 2-2 2, Luke Steward 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 8-41 7-13 25. 3-pt goals: 2-23. Rebounds: 9-O, 13-D = 22 (Darby 7, Hammond 4). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 3 (Darby 2). Steals: 9 (Potter 3, Hanning 2). Turnovers: 9. Fouls: 12. Fouled out: Darby (4th 5:11).