Seniors lead Fighting Tigers’ win in season finale
IRONTON — Trent Hacker put the finishing touches on his career as he led the Ironton Fighting Tigers past the Coal Grove Hornets in his final high school game.
Hacker put on quite the performance with a double-double as he scored a team high 16 points while snagging a game high 14 rebounds. The senior also dished out 6 assists.
Jarren Hicks led the Hornets with a game high 17 points and 5 rebounds, but he could not hold up the floodgates as Ironton flooded Coal Grove with ball pressure that led to a 65-46 victory for the Fighting Tigers.
Coal Grove was guilty of 18 turnovers which was twice as many as Ironton. Those turnovers led to easy baskets and the difference in the game.
Senior Caleb Hopper made a uncontested layup to start the game and put Ironton up 2-0, but Hankins got an uncontested layup in return to tie the game.
Fitch and Coal Grove coach Kevin Vanderhoof agreed on the arrangement that allowed the injured Hopper to start his final game and score.
Ironton sprang out to an early lead as they started the game 6-for-6 from the field which included two triples from Aaron Masters who recorded 10 points in the first quarter.
“The first quarter was about as well as we can play. We started off well and then kind of cooled off in the second quarter but picked it back up in the second half,” said Fitch.
“We have done things in spurts all season. Overall, our focus was good the whole game.”
The Hornets trailed 23-11 after the first quarter, but a strong start to the second dwindled the Fighting Tiger lead to just two points after a 10-0 run. Braxton Horn and Hunter Staton buried back to back 3-pointers during the run.
Hacker was able to drive in for a layup and find a slashing Tayden Carpenter at the buzzer to take back some control for the Tigers as they led 29-23 at the break.
Ironton got a head start to begin the third quarter as they started on a 9-0 run and Hacker began getting to the basket when he wanted as he scored 7 points in the period.
“We had one little stretch where we didn’t get back on defense and we didn’t have good ball pressure. But we got that corrected and played well from that point on,” said Fitch.
Hicks kept fighting back for the Hornets with 5 more points, but the deficit continued to grow. Coal Grove found themselves down 49-37.
Erickson Barnes added 5 points in the final quarter to help solidify the Fighting Tiger win down the stretch. The senior finished with 12 points while grabbing 4 rebounds, and dishing out 2 assists. Will York, another Ironton senior, tallied 7 points and 2 rebounds in his final game in the black and orange.
Fitch said the senior group of Hacker, Barnes, York and Hopper were great leaders and hard workers who were the key to the team’s success as they finished 10-6 overall and third in the OVC at 10-5 despite no one giving them a chance to even go .500.
“I can’t say enough about this senior group,” said Fitch. “Trent Hacker was the best leader I’ve ever coached and he had the worst ankle sprain I’ve ever seen and he was always out there no matter how much it hurt.
“Everyone knows Erickson Barnes can shoot it, but he was our leading rebounder. Will York gave you everything he had at practice or in the game. Caleb Hopper hurt that knee last year and he had some problems with it this year but he always wanted to be in the game and he would be diving on the floor after loose balls even with the bad knee.”
Coal Grove’s only senior, Tait Matney, was not able to play in the game.
Coal Grove 11 12 14 9 = 46
Ironton 23 6 20 16 = 65
COAL GROVE (9-11, 6-8): Jarren Hicks 5 0 7-8 17, Trevor Hankins 2 1 1-5 8, Hunter Staton 0 2 0-0 6, Braxton Horn 0 2 0-0 6, Perry Kingery 2 0 1-2 5, Landon Davis 1 0 0-0 2, Steve Easterling 0 0 0-0 0, Elijah Davis 1 0 0-0 2, Jordan Mullens 0 0 0-0 0, Sam Large 0 0 0-0 0, Steve Simpson 0 0 0-0 0, Braylon Stuntebeck 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-37 9-15 46. 3-pt goals: 5-11. Rebounds: 5-O, 21-D = 26 (Kingery 6, Hicks 5). Team/deadball rebounds: 6. Assists: 3. Steals: 6 (Horn 2, Hicks 2). Turnovers: 18. Fouls: 12. Fouled out: None.
IRONTON (10-6, 10-5): Landen Wilson 1 0 2-4 4, Trent Hacker 7 0 2-4 16, Caleb Hopper 1 0 0-0 2, Erickson Barnes 1 3 1-2 12, Will York 1 1 2-2 7, Aaron Masters 2 3 0-0 13, Blake Porter 1 0 0-0 2, Jaxon Vance 0 0 0-0 0, Tayden Carpenter 3 0 0-0 6, Braxton Pringle 0 0 0-2 0, Ethan White 0 1 0-0 3, E.J. Martin 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-51 7-14 65. 3-pt goals: 8-16. Rebounds: 6-O, 22-D = 28 (Hacker 14, Barnes 4). Team/deadball rebounds: 2. Assists: 7 (Hacker 3, Barnes 2). Steals: 14 (Hacker 5, York 2, Masters 2, Wilson 2). Turnovers: 9. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: None.
(Jim Walker contributed to this story.)
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