The Fighting Tigers spread the ball around like they have all season en route to a 66-39 mauling of Valley to win a Division III sectional title at Rock Hill Saturday afternoon.
Valley's Chuck Gregory scored the first two points of the game, but that was one of very few positives for the Indians in the game as Ironton outscored Valley 24-6 the rest of the quarter.
Things only got worse in the second half as the Ironton lead ballooned to 41-15 thanks to the Fighting Tiger defense and good shooting.
“They shot extremely well in the first half,” said Valley coach Kurt McGraw. “They shot over 50 percent in the first half and we didn't need that to happen.”
Ironton shot 43 percent overall for the game while Valley shot 27 percent.
With a massive lead early on, Ironton was able to get several players involved. Alston Carter scored 12 points with five rebounds, Marc Carter scored 10 with six rebounds, Chad Miller added nine points and nine rebounds. T.J. Keith, Dustin Greene, Zach Christiansen and Tyler Shoemaker all scored six points apiece and John Schweikart and Brandon Klaiber each scored two. Shannan Hensley, Bob Johnson and Lukas Morris failed to score, but each had at least one rebound meaning all 14 players on the Ironton roster accumulated at least one statistic.
“We really rotated a lot of guys in the first half,” said Ironton coach Mark Lafon. “What really impressed me is we weren't out of sync.”
The Indians on the other hand, never found their sync.
No one could score early on, though junior Zach Call provided a silver lining in an otherwise gloomy game with his 15 points and six rebounds and senior Chuck Gregory added 10 points and seven boards. No one else scored more than four for Valley.
“Zach has been very consistent for us all year,” said McGraw. “We look for big things from him next year.”
Next year, the Indians will have Call but Gregory, Jarod Bailey and Isaiah Keller are all graduating.
Ironton will move on to the district semifinals and will play Adena Saturday at the Convocation Center at Ohio University in Athens. Ironton has been there before.
Last season, Ironton made it all the way to the regional final before falling by three points to Wheelersburg. That team was led by Gagai, who is currently on the West Virginia University roster. This year's Fighting Tigers are a more balanced squad and Lafon said they could surprise some people as the tournament continues.
“I think we're a dangerous team,” said Lafon.
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Valley 8 7 12 10 - 39
Ironton 24 17 11 14 - 66
Valley - Zimmer 0 1 1, Call 6 3 15, Gregory 4 1 10, Williams 1 2 4, Keller 0 4 4, Arbaugh 1 1 3, Faulks 1 0 2. Totals 13 12 39.
Ironton - M. Carter 3 1 10, A. Carter 6 0 12, Christiansen 3 0 6, Miller 3 2 9, Shoemaker 3 0 6, Greene 3 0 6, Keith 2 3 7, Colegrove 3 0 6, Schueikart 1 0 2, Klaiber 1 02. Totals 28 6 66.
3-pointers - Valley 1 (Gregory); Ironton 3 (M. Carter).
Records - Valley 7-15; Ironton 16-5.