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Defense keys Lady Tigers’ to must win over Lady Hornets

Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers (center) holds the ball tightly as she splits a double team by the Coal Grove Lady Hornets’ Ellie Holmes (2) and Abbey Hicks (right). (Kent Sanborn/Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

Things just got interesting.
The Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers handed Coal Grove its first Ohio Valley Conference loss and prevented the Lady Hornets from clinching the title outright on Monday.
The win also gives Ironton a 10-2 OVC record, one game behind Coal Grove (11-1). The Lady Hornets can still win the title outright by winning their final two games at South Point Thursday and at home against Portsmouth the following Thursday.
Ironton has a tough road of its own. The Lady Tigers go to Portsmouth Thursday and Fairland the following Thursday.
“Our defense won this game,” said Ironton coach Doug Graham. “Riley Schreck, Elli Williams and Evan Williams and Lexie Arden all did a great job. They held Coal Grove’s two leading scorers to a combined 23 points.”
Samantha LaFon came up big with a career-high 27 points including 11-of-13 at the foul line. She pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds with 13 on the offensive glass.
Schreck and Evan Williams scored 8 points each while Lexie Arden had 7 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists.
Ironton (15-3) hurt Coal Grove on the boards, holding a commanding 43-26 advantage including 22 offensive rebounds.
Coal Grove leading scorer Addi Dillow had 15 points — only 2 in the first half — and Abbey Hicks got 8 points — all in the first half.
“Elli Williams gets most of the credit for guarding Dillow with Evan doing some. Evan on Hicks with Lexie and Riley rotating on Hicks,” said Graham.
“LaFon was just relentless.”
Kaleigh Murphy had 8 points and 5 rebounds with Jaidyn Griffith grabbing 4 rebounds.
Coal Grove led 8-7 on a 3-pointer by Hicks and 10-9 on a layup by Kaleigh Murphy.
But LaFon made two foul shots with 1:30 left in the first quarter as Ironton took the lead for good and she got two more free throws with 27 seconds on the clock for a 13-10 lead.
“LaFon was dominant, plain and simple.” said Lady Hornets’ coach Rick Roach. “We’ve got to rebound.”
The Lady Hornets were within 15-13 after a foul shot by Murphy, but a layup by LaFon off a nice pass from Arden, a trifecta by Schreck and a 3-point play by LaFon and it was 23-13 with 3:45 left in the half.
A layup by Hicks with 37 seconds to go in the half got Coal Grove within 26-17 at the break.
Arden hit a 25-foot 3-point and then fed LaFon for a layup and it was 31-22 early in the third quarter.
A putback by Dillow got Coal Grove within 33-26 only to have Ironton go on a 7-3 run to end the half with Evan Williams and Schreck making layup over the final minute and it was 40-29.
Ironton opened up a 48-33 lead with 3:30 to play on a layup by Arden that virtually sealed the outcome.
Coal Grove 10 7 12 8 = 37
Ironton 13 13 14 12 = 52
COAL GROVE (13-5, 11-1): Ellie Holmes 0 0 2-4 2, Addi Dillow 6 1 0-0 15, Caitlin Dillon 1 0 0-0 2, Kaleigh Murphy 3 0 2-5 8, Rylee Harmon 0 0 0-0 0, Abbey Hicks 1 2 0-0 8, Jaidyn Griffith 1 0 0-3 2. Totals: 15-44 4-12 37. 3-pt goals: 3-15. Rebounds: 17-O, 9-D = 26 (Murphy 5, Griffith 4). Team/deadball rebounds: 7. Assists: 2. Steals: 4 Dillow 3). Turnovers: 10. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: Holmes.
IRONTON (15-3, 10-2): Riley Schreck 1 2 0-0 8, Samantha LaFon 8 0 11-13 27, Lydia Hannan 0 0 0-0 0, Evan Williams 1 1 1-2 6, Lexie Arden 1 1 2-2 7, Elli Williams 2 0 0-0 4, Kirsten Williams 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-50 14-17 52. 3-pt goals: 4-15. Rebounds: 22-O, 21-D = 43 (LaFon 20, Arden 11). Team/deadball rebounds: 4. Assists: 9 (Arden 6). Steals: 3. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: None.