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Arden experiences highs and lows in a grand slam career

Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ senior All-Ohio standout Lexie Arden hits a jump shot in the Division 3 district finals. (Kent Sanborn/Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker

Lexie Arden was a three-time All-Ohio basketball player for the Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers, so it’s easy to see why her favorite sport has always been baseball.
“I really love baseball. If I could have played every single year I would have. I regret not playing after my eighth-grade year. That was the year I got hurt. I played all my life up until seventh grade,” said Arden.
“I was actually going to go out for baseball. I had a glove and everything. We sent it back like a month ago. I tried playing softball once. I was young. I didn’t like it. They say it would have been better in high school but I don’t know. I just like baseball.”
But during those young and formative years, Arden also played basketball and she developed into one of the best players to ever play in the Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers program.
“I just love the (basketball). I can’t explain it. I think it comes so naturally to me,” she said.
Arden was All-District and All-Ohio three times including the Southeast District Division 3 Player of the Year this past season and a first team All-Ohio selection.
The 5-foot-11 senior led Ironton to the district finals and a 22-4 record. She finished her career with 1,059 points, 10th on the all-time scoring list.
While there were a lot of highlights during her career, it could have been even better is not for two torn ACL knee injuries.
After missing her junior year with a second knee injury, Arden returned and battled through a nagging ankle injury to score 13.6 points a game and average 4.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists while shooting 45 percent from the field, 82 percent from the foul line and 36 percent from the 3-point line.
One thing Arden did well but was overlooked was on the defensive end where she averaged nearly two blocked shots a game.
“Not many people talk about my defense. I just think people don’t think that’s what I should do. They see me as a scorer. They don’t give me credit for the things that I do (defensively,” said Arden.
“I’m pretty proud. I’m a little disappointed because I didn’t get to play every single year. I had fun. It was some of the best years of my life. It was pretty emotional.”
Her stellar season earned Arden a berth on the Division 3-4 North/South All-Game roster. But the Coronavirus pandemic that forced schools to close as well as athletic facilities means Arden’s chance to play in the prestigious game would be lost forever.
“It was going to be a really good game. It would be really fun to play in. I know a lot of people look forward to playing in that and it’s a really big honor to be playing in it,” said Arden.
The opportunity to showcase her talents as a healthy player could have been beneficial after all her injuries.
“I don’t know what those games are like, but I’m sure a ton of college coaches would have been there. It would have made a big difference,” said Arden.
The second torn ACL caused many of the colleges to back off from recruiting Arden. She was contacted by Wake Forest in middle school and later talked with schools such as Ohio State, Ohio University, Northern Kentucky and St. Joseph’s.
“I told St. Joseph’s I wasn’t interested any more. A few schools have contacted my grandma (Vickie Arden). Florida Gulf Coast contact her the other day,” said Arden. “I really haven’t got much. My junior year would have been the year (for recruiting).”
NAIA Alice Lloyd University is still trying to sign Arden and have offered her postgraduate education.
“I have been contacting them and a few other schools, but Alice Lloyd is number one,” said Arden who plans to major in physical therapy. “I’ve had so many injuries I could probably be a PTA right now.”
The first injury was a torn ACL in the middle of her eighth-grade year of basketball. The second ACL knee injury came prior to her junior year and was in her other knee.
“The eighth-grade year was probably the worst for sure. Being that young and having to go through an injury like that, you don’t even think about it. I had no clue it was going to be like that,” said Arden. “The second time I did it was way easier. I had no complications.”
Even though Arden made it through her senior season without too many injuries problems, she did suffer a severe ankle injury in the district finals. She turned her ankle twice in the game and a post-game doctor visit showed a hairline crack in her tibia.
Despite the pain, Arden wasn’t going to sit on the bench. She returned each time.
“I don’t care what you say, tape it up. I’m playing,” Arden told the trainer.
“I couldn’t miss that game for anything. Knowing it could be my last game, I didn’t even have to think about it. I knew I was going right back in that game. It just comes naturally. I’ve always been a competitor in anything.”
Arden said her knees are good. She said her ankle still has a little swelling but mainly because she hasn’t been able to get any physical therapy due to the Coronavirus.
Trying to get completely healed is her main goal right now, but she is anxious for baseball season to return.
Had she not been injured early in her career, she said basketball would have had to take a backseat to baseball in the spring.
“I think I could have done well. I could field the ball, I could hit. I would have had to learn to hit a curveball though. If I had just gotten stronger, I think I could have been pretty good at it,” said Arden.
“My papaw (Greg Arden) used to hit me fly balls. I would make him go out in the yard with me every day and hit fly balls.”
Baseball might be a great love for Lexie Arden, but it is in basketball where she hit a home run.