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Lady Tigers press on to district tourney

Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ Samantha LaFon (4) scores inside and draw a foul during Saturday’s 63-51 win over New Lexington in the Division 3 sectional finals. LaFon had 32 points as Ironton advanced to the district tournament. (Kent Sanborn/SouthernOhioSportsPhotos.com)

Jim Walker

LUCASVILLE — If you press, we’ll push back. Hard.
The New Lexington Lady Panthers utilized a press to force turnovers in their attempt to beat the Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers.
But the Lady Tigers were able to break the press more times than New Lexington wanted and Ironton shot a lot of layups in a 63-51 win on Saturday to capture the Division 3 sectional title.
Ironton (21-3) was guilty of 20 turnovers but did shoot 20-of-47 from the field for 42.6 percent and converted 11-of-17 free throws.
“We didn’t step to our passes. We reached with our arms instead of going two steps with our feet and they would shoot gaps a lot of times. We’ll work on that in practice,” said Ironton coach Doug Graham.
The beneficiary of breaking the press was center Samantha LaFon who posted career highs with 32 points and 21 rebounds.
“She’s a special talent and a hard worker. Her best moments are ahead of her. She’s relentless in there,” said Graham.
“We wanted to break that press and take advantage down low. I know (LaFon) scored 32 points and a lot of that was from rebounds, but a lot of that was from other girls breaking the press and her being in a position to lay it up and finish and I think several times she finished with contact.”
LaFon also benefitted from the play of Lexie Arden who handed out 10 assists, mainly to LaFon. Arden finished with 16 points including four 3-pointers, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 6 blocked shots.
New Lexington (13-11) got within 11-8 early but a 3-pointer by Elli Williams ignited a 9-2 run that spilled over into the second quarter and turned an 18-10 first quarter lead into a 20-10 spread.
A layup by LaFon made it 22-13 but the Lady Panthers ran off 5 straight points to trail 22-18.
Arden hit a short jumper and then buried a trifecta for a 27-18 lead.
Aubri Spicer scored for New Lexington onlyh to have Arden answer with another trey and it was 30-20.
Two foul shots by Maggie Skillman cut the deficit to 30-22 at the break.
LaFon made a free throw and then a layup off a pass from Arden and it was 33-22 to start the second half.
Another layup by LFon put the lead at 35-25 but the Lady Panthers went on a 8-0 run and trailed just 35-33.
Two straight layups by Lafon, a trifecta by Arden and an 18-footer by Evan Williams opened up a 44-33 lead with 1:20 left in the quarter.
Spicer had a layup and 3-pointer to get the Lady Panthers within 44-38 to end the quarter.
But two layups by LaFon and a foul shot by Evan Williams put Ironton ahead 49-38.
Ironton went up by10 points on two occasions and then a foul shot by Evan Williams and two each by Elli Williams and LaFon made it 58-49.
New Lexington was within 58-51 after a layup by Spicer only to be forced to foul and Hannan hit a free throw and Elli Williams and Arden each went 2-for-2 over the final 15 seconds to settle the outcome.
Spicer had 17 points and Emma Abrams 12 for New Lexington.
UP NEXT: Ironton plays South Point at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday in the district semifinals at Waverly’s downtown arena.
New Lex 10 12 16 13 = 51
Ironton 18 12 14 19 = 63
NEW LEXINGTON (13-11): Kenadee Dillon 0 0 0-0 0, Emma Abrams 0 4 0-0 12, Maggie Skillman 2 0 2-3 6, Lydia Stephens 0 2 0-0 6, Aubri Spicer 6 1 2-10 17, Riley Harris 0 0 5-6 5, Brooke Lehman 0 0 2-2 2, Kim Kellogg 0 1 0-1 3. Totals: 16-59 11-22 51. 3-pt goals: 8-26. Rebounds: 10-O, 18-D = 28 (Kellogg 6, Skillman 6, Spicer 5). Team/deadball rebounds: 3. Assists: 3. Steals: 9 (Spicer 5). Turnovers: 7. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: Abrams (4th 0:15).
IRONTON (21-3): Samantha LaFon 12 0 8-13 32, Lydia Hannan 0 1 1-3 4, Elli Williams 0 1 4-5 7, Evan Williams 1 0 2-4 4, Lexie Arden 1 4 2-2 16, Abbie Patterson 0 0 0-0 0, Isabel Morgan 0 0 0-0 0, Kameren Arden 0 0 0-0 0, Teegan Carpenter 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-48 17-27 63. 3-pt goals: 6-17. Rebounds: 19-O, 36-D = 55 (LaFon 21, Hannan 8, El. Williams 6, Arden 6, Ev. Williams 5). Team/deadball rebounds: 5. Assists: 14 (Arden 10). Steals: 7 (Arden 3, K. Arden 2). Turnovers: 20. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: None.