ATHENS — Unfortunately for the Fighting Tigers, their boys basketball tournament trail — although definitely a good one — won’t be remembered like the length of their football run this past season.
That’s because 11th-seeded Ironton, against the second-seeded Zane Trace Pioneers on Friday night, lost late in the Division III district championship tilt —and fell 51-41 inside Ohio University’s Convocation Center.
Ironton, after an overly late start to the season due to its football squad reaching the state championship game in early December, ends its campaign at 13-11 —but not before winning another sectional championship and knocking out one-loss Eastern Brown before Friday’s game against Zane Trace.
The Pioneers, which won back-to-back district championships for the first time in half a century on Friday night, are now 22-3.
Zane Trace took last season’s crown as a Division II program.
For the Fighting Tigers, they didn’t enjoy the offensive success that they had in the semifinal upset of Eastern Brown.
In that affair, they splashed seven first-half three-pointers — en route to a 23-11 halftime advantage and a 56-41 victory.
They fell behind to the Pioneers, and despite a fourth-quarter comeback bid in which they got to within two at 37-35 with four minutes remaining, were outscored 14-6 the rest of the way.
Ironton shot just 13-of-44 from the field for 29-and-a-half percent, and missed all nine of its third-quarter attempts — as it scored six points from the free-throw line and trailed 33-26.
The Fighting Tigers trailed just 13-9 after the first quarter and 23-20 at halftime.
The Tigers were only 3-of-18 from three-point range against Zane Trace, after making 7-of-15 against Eastern Brown including shooting 50-percent overall (18-of-37).
Reid Carrico, the state’s Division V Defensive Player of the Year for football and second-team (Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association) all-Southeast District Division III basketball selection, collected a double-double for Ironton with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
He made five field goals and sank 10-of-11 free throws.
Cam Evans, the OPSWA’s Southeast District Division III Player of the Year, ended up with 15 points —as Nick Nesser paced the Pioneers and tied Carrico with 20.
In the first championship game on Friday in The Convo, top-seeded and Ohio Valley Conference champion Fairland steamrolled archrival Chesapeake 71-43.
The now 23-2 Dragons never trailed, made eight of their first 15 three-point attempts as part of nine for the entire game, and outrebounded the fifth-seeded Panthers 36-24.
Chesapeake, which went 20-4 with three of those losses against Fairland, was no closer than 3-2 and shot just 17-of-58 from the field for 29-percent —including a cold 19-percent (5-of-26) from deep.
Jacob Polcyn, the Dragons’ all-Southeast District first-team selection, paced all scorers and four Fairland players in double figures with 18 points on 9-of-14 shooting while corralling 10 rebounds.
The Panthers reached the district final after eliminating Minford (sectional championship 59-49) and Wheelersburg (district semifinals 54-51).
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved