AP NEWS

LaFon notches 300th win at Classic

December 24, 2018

IRONTON - Mark LaFon once considered giving up coaching.

Twenty-six years later, the Ironton High School boys basketball coach celebrated his 300th career victory a 59-47 triumph over Ashland Saturday night in the finale of the Ironton Classic at the Conley Center.

“It’s not about me,” LaFon said after being presented the game ball by Fighting Tigers girls coach Doug Graham at mid court as fans cheered. “I appreciate it. A lot of good people, family, players and coaches went into this. Coach (Norm) Persin at Chesapeake was my mentor. Coach (Roger) Zornes when I got to Ironton taught me a different way to coach basketball.”

LaFon won 52 games as girls coach at Chesapeake, his alma mater, then won 53 coaching the boys at South Point. Lafon won the next 195 games coaching the Ironton boys.

“I’m blessed to have had good players,” LaFon said. “I’ve had players who allowed me to coach them hard. That’s one thing about Ironton, they respond to you coaching them hard.”

LaFon said that early in his coaching career he didn’t know if he’d win 30 games, let alone 300.

“I remember thinking, ‘I can’t do this,’” LaFon said. “Then the years go by and you pick up some wins and they just add up. We coaches remember the losses more than the wins.”

That victory No. 300 came against the longtime rival Tomcats was special. That it happened in the Ironton Classic, an event LaFon began 11 years ago was even more satisfying.

“I want to thank all our sponsors and everyone who has made this event possible,” LaFon said. “A lot of people make this happen and they deserve credit.”

The Tigers dominated Saturday, never trailing and leading by as many as 21 points. Charlie Large scored 16 points and grabbed five rebounds. Reid Carico scored 15 and snared 12 rebounds. Ethan Wilson scored 11 and snatched seven missed shots.

Ironton was adept at getting the ball inside and scoring from the block. If the distance of all of the Tigers’ baskets were added together they might not have reached the length of the court.

“I like 3-pointers, but I know it’s easier to make a shot from one foot than 20 feet,” LaFon said. “When you have layups you take them.”

LaFon said he was pleased with his team’s hustle.

“Even when our guys weren’t playing well, their effort cleaned it up. Even when they made mistakes, their effort cleaned it up.”

Hunter Mays led Ashland with 17 points. Devaunte Robinson scored 13.

ASHLAND 8 9 9 19 - 47: Mays 17, Sellers 2, Bradley 4, Gillum 2, Hudson 9, Robinson 13.

IRONTON 19 18 6 18 - 59: Wilson 11, Grizzle 2, Carico 15, Freeman 2, Humphreys 2, Large 16, Barnes 7, Milleson 2.