Fighting Tigers fall in district semifinals, 43-36
ATHENS, Ohio — Just call them “The Great Imposters.”
The make-up could win an Academy Award. The mannerisms were near-perfect. Yes, they looked just like the Ironton Fighting Tigers.
But they had to be imposter after watching the way they played which did not resemble the season-long Ironton team fans had come to see and expect.
For three quarters, the Fighting Tigers looked like “fake news” before a fourth quarter rally fell short in a 43-36 loss to the Adena Warriors in the Division III district semifinals Saturday at Ohio University’s Convocation Center.
Ironton shot 4-of-21 from the field in the first half for 19 percent. That’s 19 as in one-nine.
The defense seemed its usual self by allowing only 16 points in the first half. However, the offense struggled to squeeze out a mere eight points.
“It wasn’t like they were burning up the nets. We played good defense. We gave up 16 points in the half,” said Ironton coach Mark LaFon.
“But you’ve got to score. We weren’t taking advantage of it. Once it got like that, the pace of the game was just like a half-court situation. It just played into their hands.”
“The middle was open, we just weren’t attacking it. We kept settling for jump shots. We got the ball in the high post and we were just throwing it right back out.”
Reid Carrico posted a double-double as he led Ironton with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Charlie Large scored 12 points. Ethan Wilson had four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Ironton had a 29-25 edge in rebounding, but an unusual amount of offensive boards as they managed only nine which limited them to one-and-done possessions.
“We did not block out well. We talked about that being a strength of ours. They were long. They had three kids 6-3 or better. But we didn’t block out and that hurt us,” said LaFon.
Zach Fout scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds to lead Adena. Preston Sykes had 12 points and Caleb Foglesong grabbed seven rebounds.
“We played very unselfish,” said Adena coach Kyle Bradley. “Zach was locked in. That’s the best game he’s played for me. He didn’t force shots.”
Ironton got a 17-footer from Wilson and a layup by Carrico for a 4-3 lead midway through the first quarter. It proved to be Ironton’s last lead of the game.
Foglesong made a layup and Sykes had a putback and 3-pointer for a 10-4 lead at the end of the quarter.
Jacob Shipley hit a 3-pointer to give Adena a 16-6 lead late in the half. The Warriors got the ball back and were playing for the last when Carrico came up with a steal and fed Large for a layup just before the buzzer and it was 16-8 at the half.
Fout went 2-for-4 at the foul line and had a putback to give Adena a 26-13 lead with 3:24 left in the third quarter.
A 3-pointer by Logan Bennett gave the Warriors their biggest lead at 29-15, but Large drained a trifecta and Carrico’s putback got Ironton within 29-20 with 40 seconds left in the quarter.
Carrico’s layup and two foul shots cut the deficit to 29-24.
Fout’s basket put the lead at 37-30 before Large hit a 15-footer and then Wilson came up with a steal and fed Large for a layup to slice the lead to 37-34.
A layup by Wilson with 1:30 to play made it 37-36 and Ironton got the ball back after a turnover only to miss a shot looking to take the lead.
Ironton began to foul after missed shots and Sykes and Fout each hit two free throws and Foglesong was 1-for-2 to make it 42-36. Sykes added the final free throw with seven seconds left.
The loss meant the final game for Ironton’s seniors Ayden Barnes, Hunter Humphreys, Wilson and Large.
LaFon praised their efforts noting Barnes defensive prowess, called Humphreys the most unselfish player he’s ever coach, the courage and determination of the oft-injured Large and relentless paly of Wilson for the past four years.
“When it was over with, I’m not saying I’m happy. I’m not happy at all with what happened, but I’m talking to my kids, my seniors for the last time in that locker room,” said LaFon.
“I wanted to make sure they understood how proud I am of them, to know they are good men and what a great year this was, the excitement they caused in our community and with their effort. They played hard every night and they played hard here. They never gave up there.”
Ironton 4 4 12 16 = 36
Adena 10 6 13 14 = 43
IRONTON (18-7): Ethan Wilson 2 0 0-2 4, Jordan Grizzle 2 0 0-0 4, Reid Carrico 7 0 2-2 16, Charlie Large 3 2 0-2 12, Ayden Barnes 0 0 0-0 0, Trent Milleson 0 0 0-0 0, Hunter Humphreys 0 0 0-0 0, Collin Freeman 0 0 0-0 0, Erickson Barnes 0 0 0-0 0, Trent Hacker 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-47 2-6 36. 3-pt goals: 2-11. Rebounds: 9-O, 20-D = 29 (Carrico 10, Wilson 4). Team rebounds: 1. Assists: 5 (Wilson 3). Steals: 5 (Large 2, Wilson 2). Turnovers: 11. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: Wilson (4th 0:07).
ADENA (18-6): Nate Throckmorton 0 0 0-0 0, Logan Bennett 1 1 0-0 5, Zach Fout 5 1 7-12 20, Caleb Foglesong 1 0 1-2 3, Preston Sykes 1 2 4-7 12, Jacob Shipley 0 1 0-0 3, Ethan Kunkle 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13-34 12-21 43. 3-pt goals: 5-17. Rebounds: 6-O, 25-D = 31 (Fout 10, Foglesong 7). Team rebounds: 1. Assists: 6 (Throckmorton 3, Bennett 2). Steals: 5 (Bennett 3). Turnovers: 11. Fouls: 12. Fouled out: None.