Ironton avenges playoff loss, whips Portsmouth
IRONTON -- Technically, the Ironton Fighting Tigers boys basketball team had already avenged a loss to Portsmouth last season that kept them out of the state final four.
The Fighting Tigers beat the Trojans at Portsmouth in December.
But the game Tuesday night in Ironton was true revenge, as the Fighting Tigers blew Portsmouth out of the gym, 86-52.
Ironton head coach Mark LaFon didn't hesitate when asked if avenging the loss twice over was a motivating factor.
"This is Ironton/Portsmouth. It doesn't matter if it's tiddlywinks or football or tennis or whatever," LaFon said. "It's a great rivalry and yeah, there's no doubt that was a bitter, bitter loss. Yeah, you definitely want to get them."
The first quarter ended with Ironton (11-2) up 18-12, but the Fighting Tigers would soon take control of the game, as senior guard Zac Carter, who had 38 points, began taking the ball to the basket and got two of Portsmouth's key starters, Ky're Allison and Alex Dickerson, saddled with three fouls each before the half.
"That's something we didn't do very well at their place," LaFon said. "This game we got their defense moving around a little bit and they got caught behind some and we were able to get those fouls, which are deserved because we're attacking the basket, not just pulling up for an easy shot."
Carter had an all-around stellar game offensively, getting nine points at the foul line, 15 from 3-point range and 14 from the floor, while only missing two shots.
"We expect Zac to put points on the board, that's his job," LaFon said. "But it's nice when he gets in the 30s, that certainly makes things a lot easier for me."
But it wasn't just Carter's effort that propelled Ironton. LaFon said the entire team was dialed in as players such as Tre Fletcher and Alex White dominated underneath, while role-players like Josh Glover were able to contribute to the scoring as well.
"We've talked about the fact that we need our role players not to be role players but be actual players," LaFon said. "Guys like Josh Glover going to the basket and picking up a couple of buckets, that's what we're looking for."
Portsmouth (7-9) was led by Jayllen Carter with 14 points.
PORTSMOUTH 12 14 11 15 -- 52: J. Carter 14, Oliver 10, Allison 9, Lattimore 2, Dickerson 5, Porter 3, Peano 5, Grashel 2.
IRONTON 18 23 21 24 -- 86: Z. Carter 38, Fletcher 14, White 15, Glover 7, Bowling 6, Easterling 2, Sherman 2, Long 2.