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Ironton hires Fitch as new boys’ head basketball coach

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ new boys’ head basketball coach P.J. Fitch

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

The search has ended.
Finally.
After nearly three months, the search is over for a new Ironton Fighting Tigers’ boys’ head basketball coach.
P.J. Fitch was hired last Sunday at an Ironton School Board meeting held prior to graduation as the new Ironton coach replacing Mark LaFon who resigned March 11 after 14 seasons.
“I’m just excited about the opportunity. There’s some pieces there. We need to find a true point guard,” said Fitch who inherits a team that was 18-7 last season but lost three starters including All-Ohio guards Ethan Wilson and Charlie Large.
“There are some pieces there. We have to find a point guard and some offense,” he said.
Fitch graduated from Minford High School in 1989 and signed to play at Mount Vernon Nazarene only to break his hand. He returned to Scioto County and played at Shawnee State and got involved in health care.
He got his Masters’ degree from Ohio University.
Getting the coaching job at Ironton brings Fitch full-cycle. His first work experience was in health care at the Lawrence County General Hospital in Ironton for seven years.
“I worked there about seven years and just loved the area,” said Fitch. “From a coaching perspective, (Ironton) is one of the top five jobs south of Columbus.
“When I heard coach LaFon was stepping down, I certainly wanted to put my name out there. I coached at Western for a couple of years but worked elsewhere and it ended up being too difficult driving and traveling. When Ironton opened up, I had already stepped down at Western. This is certainly the type of job I wanted to pursue.”
Fitch was the head coach of the Beaver Eastern Eagles from 2008-15 and posted a 114-62 record and then coached two years at Western where he posted a 30-16 record. Overall, Fitch is 144-78 in 10 years.
Fitch’s teams won 10 different championships including four conference titles, two county titles, four sectionals, a district runner-up in 2015, a district title is 2012, and a regional runner-up in 2012.
He was named the Southern Ohio Conference coach of the year four times, was a two-time Coach of the Year selection by the Ohio District 14 Basketball Coaches, and the Association Press Southeast District Coach of Year once.
Fitch, 48, has coached for 19 years including 11 seasons as an assistant coach under John Strickland, Rick Scarberry and Steven Ater.
While coaching at Eastern, Fitch’s son, Garrett, finished just 23 points shy of the school record.
Ironton must now turn its attention to hiring a new athletic director after LaFon reportedly resigned from the position.