However, this time, he was not wearing the Fighting Tigers' familiar white, orange and black home uniform.
Waginger, who transferred to South Webster during the off-season, was wearing the opposing colors for the first time in his return to face his former team.
The Fighting Tiger homecoming was not what Waginger would have hoped for - with stifling defense and multiple fastbreak points, Ironton was able to claim the game 62-61 on a missed South Webster free throw in the closing seconds, punctuating a win of sweet redemption for Ironton coach Mark LaFon.
“To our kids, this game was very important,” he said. “The boys didn't talk about it too much, but they were pretty upset when (Brigham) left. They felt a little cheated. They had a point to prove, and I think they proved it tonight.”
Waginger, highly-regarded as a defensive player in addition to his offensive skills, is not typically a player to challenge on the defensive side of the court. But Ironton was able to use its knowledge of Waginger's defensive game to generate offensive momentum.
“That was the best defensive team outside of Chesapeake that we have played,” said LaFon. “And Brigham is one of the best lockdown defenders - I'd put him up in the top ten - in the state. We knew Brigham would do a lot of doubling, and when we were running some of our sets we would put Mark Carter on the baseline, which we never do. We did that because we knew Brigham would not stay down - he is an aggressive player. We gambled, and our players stepped up.”
Carter was dominant offensively for the Tigers, scoring 21 points and adding three assists to lead Ironton. LeFon believes Carter's game showed great maturity despite his young age.
“Mark Carter really stepped up. We told him Brigham would gamble, and we wanted him to keep it a wash, but he took advantage and exploited it. It was such a great effort by such a young man,” said LaFon.
Using this strategy, Ironton was able to push its lead out to 11 shortly before the end of the third quarter, but a Jordan Lower three as time expired brought it back to eight at the break. The Jeeps edged closer in the fourth on threes by Josh Campbell and Waginger, and a three-point play by Nick Aldridge.
Another Campbell three from the corner reduced the margin to only one, 61-60, with 24 seconds left on the clock. Waginger, picked off the ensuing inbounds pass and, for a moment, it looked as if the Jeeps had taken the lead, but a three-second violation resulted in two Ironton free throws by Austin Carter. Austin missed the first, and the game was set for a dramatic end.
Down by two with 10 seconds to play, the Jeeps pushed the ball up the court, with Aldridge launching a three-pointer. Aldridge, who finished with 20 points, missed, but the long rebound fell to a Jeep, who was fouled on his three-point attempt with only eight seconds left on the clock.
The Fighting Tigers were able to ice the win after two of the three free throws missed.
“Our kids are really hurting right now,” said Marc Kreischer, South Webster's coach. “It was a tough environment, and we didn't always keep our composure. They played an excellent game, and I think we put a little undue pressure on ourselves. We were right there at the end, but we have got to get better, and there is a lot of room for improvement.”
Ironton 17 12 18 14 - 62
South Webster 14 17 9 21 - 61
Ironton - M. Carter 8 3 21, A. Carter 5 4 14, Gagai 3 0 7, Walker 3 1 7, Phillips 3 1 7, Allen 1 0 3, Keitz 1 0 2. Totals 24 9 62.
South Webster - Aldridge 8 3 20, Waginger 5 0 14, Campbell 4 0 11, Decamp 1 1 3, Fenton 1 0 2. 19 4 61.
3-pointers - Ironton 4 (M. Carter 2, Gagai 1, Allen 1), South Webster 11 (Waginger 4, Lower 3, Campbell 3, Aldridge).
Records - Ironton 6-3. South Webster 7-1.