Division III's #3 Tigers flex their muscle at Hatton Gym Tuesday night
“They’re the real deal” said Chillicothe’s Drew Meister after watching the Ironton Tigers score a 75-52 victory over his Cavaliers. It was the Tigers’ 11th straight win.
The #3 team in Ohio’s Division 3 got off to an early 6-0 start, but the Cavs kept pace on a bucket by Nate Rosenbauer to get on the board, the Tommy Bolte followed with a three and Nolan Taylor dropped in a layup and tacked on a free throw to tie the game at 10 two minutes later.
Then, the much bigger Tigers finished the first quarter on a 10-2 run for a 20-12 lead through one.
Meister knew the Tigers would be a load, but felt it was important to stay within the structure of his team.
“What makes them the real deal is the fact that they can put three big ‘hosses’ out there to defend a three guard lineup” said Meister.
“We wanted to stick with what we’ve been doing with the three guard lineup… from a defensive standpoint it might have been okay for us to do that, but from an offensive stand point it’s bit much of a mix and a match for us.”
Meister encouraged his players at the half when they were down 37-27. Ironton had jumped ahead by 13 at 35-22, but Zach Johnson put together a 5-point run to whittle the lead down to 8 before the Tigers got a buzzer beater by Zac Carter for the 10-point margin.
“Our guard play stood the test tonight. I told our ‘bigs’, it wasn’t that you didn’t have heart, you didn’t have the gut check, we didn’t really have a good answer” for 6’6” Trey Fletcher, who finished with 24 points and 6’4” Trevor White and Aaron Stephens who combined for 17.
The Cavs saw Warren Friday, who presented as long and lanky front court lineup. The Tigers height was accentuated by thick, muscular bodies. Add to the mix, Carter. The 5’8” point guard became Ironton’s all-time scoring leader last week and hit the Cavs for 21.
Chillicothe had two Cavaliers reach double figures, Johnson’s 14 and Bolte’s 12.
“A good ball club in Ironton” said Meister. “I can see them going the distance.”
The Cavs (7-13/5-4) play their final SEOAL game at Gallia Academy Friday and host Canal Winchester in the regular season finale. The post season begins a week from Friday with Washington Court House at Southeastern High School. The Blue Lions lost to London 71-69 in overtime Tuesday.