Ironton eyes top-seeded Adena in district semifinal
IRONTON - Ironton senior guard Charlie Large summed up his team’s attitude better than anyone.
“I’m so excited you all don’t even understand,” Large said. “It’s been a long four years.”
Large’s excitement stems from the opportunity to play in the Division III Athens district semifinals at 3 p.m. Saturday when the fifth-seeded Fighting Tigers (17-6) take on top-seeded Adena (18-6) at Ohio University’s Convocation Center. The victor moves on to the district finals March 9 against the winner of the other semifinal contest featuring No. 6 seed West Union (14-11) and seventh-seeded Chesapeake (15-9).
Ironton began post-season play with a 77-55 victory over 12th seed Minford, then walloped fourth-seeded Oak Hill 44-25 in the Jackson 4 sectional championship game. The triumph was the Tigers’ first in a sectional title contest since 2015.
The key to Ironton’s success has been defense. The runner-up in a strong Ohio Valley Conference, the Tigers held Oak Hill to 8-for-41 shooting, including a 2-for-23 effort from 3-point range. At one point, the Oaks missed 11 consecutive shots.
Large led the Tigers offense with 18 points. He and Ethan Wilson form one of the better senior guard combinations in southeastern Ohio and the Tri-State.
Ironton enters the tournament on a roll, having won eight of its last nine, with the lone loss being 58-57 to Zane Trace, the top-seeded team in the Division II Southeastern 1 section.
Adena has made quite a turnaround in a year’s time. The Warriors went 6-16 last season, but enter the game without injured standout sophomore guard Jarrett Garrison, who would be valuable against the Tigers’ swarming pressure defense.
Adena and Ironton share common foes.
n Ironton lost to Zane Trace 58-57. Adena lost to the Pioneers 67-52 and 58-38.
n The Tigers defeated Portsmouth73-56 and 69-24. The Warriors beat Portsmouth 57-54.