ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — For three quarters on Monday night, the Meigs Lady Marauders misfired from long range.
But, finally in the final quarter, the Lady Marauders couldn’t miss from point blank.
Thanks to its pressure defense taking full advantage of Wellston turnover after Wellston turnover, Meigs rallied from a surprising double-digit deficit to defeat the Golden Rockets 49-40 inside Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium.
With the win, the Lady Marauders moved to 9-11 — and concluded Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division play at 4-8.
Meigs also completes the season sweep of Wellston, which fell to 1-19 overall and 0-11 in the TVC-Ohio.
The Lady Marauders mustered a 48-30 victory in Jackson County on Dec. 21, but had to rally on Monday on the strength of a 21-4 fourth quarter — part of a 25-5 run over the final 10 minutes and 27 seconds.
In forcing the Golden Rockets into 30 turnovers, most of those came in the tide-turning fourth quarter, in which the Marauders kept intercepting Wellston passes and turning those steals into layups.
Meigs trailed by as much as 35-24 with two minutes and 27 seconds to play in the third period, which was Wellston’s largest lead on any opponent all season.
Only a minute and eight seconds earlier, Meigs coach Scott Cleland called a timeout — and exhorted his team to stage a comeback.
“If you heard what I said (during timeout), I said it was gut-check time,” he said. “It was time to play with some heart and some guts. What are you going to conserve the energy for? If you don’t win, we’re done. It’s that simple.”
What Cleland said worked — and the Marauders were just getting started.
Only an Alexis Green free throw with 20 seconds remaining in the third quarter, and four Sydney Mullins points in the final canto, were Wellston’s only markers in the final 8:20.
The Marauders opened the first 3:57 of the fourth stanza on a 12-3 run, taking the lead for good at 40-39 on an Alli Hatfield free throw following a steal.
From there, Kassidy Betzing scored on an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 43-39, as Madison Fields finished 4-of-4 at the free-throw line before Betzing’s final pair with 1:13 remaining.
Betzing, on five field goals and 5-of-7 free throws, led the Lady Marauders with 15 points.
Fields, on four field goals and 5-of-6 tosses, added 14.
Cleland discussed the Marauders’ defensive attack in the fourth quarter, with Fields essentially being the designated interceptor.
“The other girls were doing their jobs on the help side, so Madison was able to step in and get some steals,” he said. “We didn’t press real well tonight, so we played man-to-man (defense) in the second half. And that’s the best man we’ve played all year. The last few games, we’ve forgotten that defense puts points on the board. When you play good defense, then you get your transition points and you can shoot shots.”
The Marauders struggled shooting against Wellston’s zone, making only 17-of-54 for the entire game — and 4-of-20 from beyond the arc.
Meigs made two of its four three-pointers in the first quarter, with Madison Hendricks and Devin Humphreys hitting back-to-back threes to forge a 13-13 tie after one.
“We couldn’t buy a shot in the first half. That’s the way we’ve been for the last two or three games for some reason,” said Cleland. “This is the first time in the second half we’ve nailed a bunch of shots. The problem has been we’ve been settling for threes instead of attacking and going to the basket. Once we attack and go to the basket, the outside shot is open.”
The Rockets rode the hot hand of the freshman Mullins, who scored a career and game-high 23 points, including 19 through the opening three quarters and which featured five three-pointers.
Green — on four field goals and 3-of-4 free throws — scored all 12 of her points through the first three quarters, as did Katelyn Stewart on a second-quarter field goal and 3-of-4 foul shots.
There were four ties and five lead changes, as Wellston led for almost 24 minutes, but was only 8-of-18 at the foul line.
Hendricks had two deuces and two treys towards 10 points, while Sadie Fox with two field goals and Danielle Morris with one rounded out the Maroon and Gold.
The Marauders have two non-league games remaining, including at 9-9 Jackson on Thursday.
“Jackson has a really good player in the (Rebekah) Green girl,” said Cleland. “We’re not going to be able to play like we did the first half tonight and come out with a win. We’re going to have to play all four quarters well.”
Meigs will then host Wahama on Saturday night in the regular-season finale.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106
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