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Fighting Tigers rally to edge Hornets, 50-47

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

COAL GROVE — When Play A fails, go to Plan B.
The Ironton Fighting Tigers’ plan Saturday night was to play well early and avoid falling behind.
The Coal Grove Hornets foiled that plan by building a 12-point halftime lead.
OK, let’s go to Plan B. It’s more complicated and demands more things to do, but it’s the only plan that can work.
It did.
Ironton’s Plan B worked as the Fighting Tigers rallied to edge the Hornets 50-47 in an Ohio Valley Conference game.
“We talked about playing well in the first half and then we didn’t. We’d rather win than lose, but we were not happy with the way we play in the first half,” said Ironton coach P.J. Fitch.
Part of the plan required Trent Hacker and his bad ankle to play extended minutes which he did and responded with 14 points.
“We’ve only had one practice (since last Tuesday) and we didn’t expect to play (Hacker) that much. Thank heavens Trent Hacker was back with us,” said Fitch.
Trailing 26-14 starting the second half, Erickson Barnes drained three 3-pointers including one trey when he got fouled and converted a 4-point play and got Ironton within 29-26 with 4:17 to go in in the third quarter.
“We ran a couple of quick hitters and got him a couple of good looks and he shot us back into it,” Fitch said of Barnes’ clutch shooting.
Hacker made back-to-back layups as Ironton took a 30-29 lead.
Braxton Horn — who led all scorers with 18 points including four 3-pointers — made a layup to give Coal Grove its final lead at 31-30 with 1:50 on the clock.
Caleb Hopper’s layup on an inbounds play with 1:01 left in the third quarter put Ironton back on top for good at 32-31.
Two foul shots by Landen Wilson and two layups by Blake Porter put the lead at 38-31 with 6:09 to go.
Malachi Wheeler made a foul shot and converted a 3-point play as Coal Grove got within 47-45. Hacker’s foul shot put the lead at 48-45 but a layup by Jarren Hicks had the Hornets down by just one with 40 seconds left.
Porter was fouled and hit a free throw with 25 seconds left and after the Hornets missed a 3-point attempt, Barnes was fouled and hit the first of two shots with 12 seconds left.
Coal Grove attempted a shot just before the final buzzer that missed and Ironton had survived.
Barnes had 13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Wilson had 6 rebounds and Hacker 5.
Besides Horn, Hicks and Hunter Staton had 9 points each. Staton scored all 9 of his points in the first half to help Coal Grove build its
Coal Grove (7-9, 5-7) led 7-0 to start the game and was up 14-4 at the end of the first quarter. The Hornets had a 12-point lead on two occasions in the half.
Turnovers plagued the Hornets who had 20 for the game — 11 in the second half.
“We just had more ball pressure than we did early in the game,” said Fitch.
On Monday, both teams play at home in sectional tournament games. Ironton faces Southeastern and Coal Grove faces Lynchburg-Clay. Both games start at 7 p.m.
Ironton 4 10 18 18 = 50
Coal Grove 14 12 5 16 = 47
IRONTON (8-5, 8-5): Landen Wilson 1 0 4-4 6, Trent Hacker 6 0 2-8 14, Caleb Hopper 4 0 1-2 9, Blake Porter 2 0 1-2 5, Erickson Barnes 1 3 2-3 13, Aaron Masters 0 0 1-2 1, Will York 0 0 0-0 0, Tayden Carpenter 1 0 0-0 2. Totals: 18-43 11-21 50. 3-pt goals: 3-12. Rebounds: 10-O, 20-D = 30 (Barnes 8, Wilson 6, Hacker 5, Carpenter 4). Team/deadball rebounds: 2. Assists: 8 (Wilson 3, Barnes 3, Carpenter 2). Steals: 6 (Barnes 2). Blocks: 4 (Barnes 2, Hacker, Carpenter). Turnovers: 13. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: None.
COAL GROVE (7-9, 5-7): Malachi Wheeler 2 0 3-5 7, Jarren Hicks 2 0 5-10 9, Trevor Hankins 0 0 0-0 0, Braxton Horn 3 4 0-0 18, Perry Kingery 0 0 4-4 4, Hunter Staton 1 2 1-2 9, Landon Davis 0 0 0-0 0, Elijah Dillon 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-33 13-21 47. 3-pt goals: 20. Rebounds: 5-O, 21-D = 26 (Staton 5). Team/deadball rebounds: 6. Assists: 4 (Horn 2). Steals: 6 (Horn 3, Hicks 2). Blocks: 3 (Hankins, Hicks, Kingery). Turnovers: 20. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: Wheeler (4th 0:12).