ROCK SPRINGS, Ohio —The Meigs Lady Marauders seemed to have a stuck accelerator on Thursday night.
However, finally for the game’s final dozen minutes, they were able to put the contest on cruise control.
In never trailing throughout, the host Marauders first fended off — and eventually pulled away from — the River Valley Lady Raiders 55-37 in a key Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division girls basketball tilt inside Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium.
Meigs scored the opening six points in a matter of two minutes and 50 seconds, but basically plodded along from there until the final quarter.
Still, the Lady Marauders’ defense did the job all throughout, as Meigs maintained leads of 8-4, 21-14 and 35-26 following the first three periods.
When Meigs’ Madison Fields found the basket for the game’s final points, with two minutes remaining, the Maroon and Gold had its largest margin — which was the 55-37 final score.
Before outscoring River Valley 20-11 in the final canto, the favored Marauders maintained anywhere from a four-to-14-point advantage for a span of 22 minutes and 25 seconds.
It wasn’t until the final three minutes that the Marauders made it a 14-to-18 point difference, thanks to outscoring the Raiders — who had three starters foul out by this point — 8-2.
Fields, who finished with a game-high 15 points on seven field goals, netted four buckets — and a free throw — in the fourth quarter alone.
With the win, Meigs moved to 5-1, winning its third consecutive affair following its only loss of the season against Nelsonville-York.
The Lady Marauders are also now 3-1 in the TVC-Ohio, remaining tied with Nelsonville-York (4-1 TVC-Ohio) for second-place in the division.
River Valley, which dropped its third straight game, fell to 2-7 — and 2-2 in the league.
While the Lady Marauders only shot 33-percent on 21-of-64, they held a 21-13 advantage in total field goals— and made 11 free throws to the Raiders’ 10 attempts.
They also grabbed 40 rebounds — 20 offensive and 20 defensive — as three Lady Marauders collared at least seven.
Three River Valley starters — Beth Gillman, Maggie Campbell and Erin Jackson — all fouled out in the fourth quarter to wear down its already extremely thin depth.
“Our defense has been carrying us the whole year, and our effort level is really good,” said Meigs coach Jarrod Kasun. “We constantly pressure the ball, we have a couple of guards who can really play perimeter defense. We’re holding teams to under 30-percent shooting for the year, so that is pretty solid for us. That’s what we have to do. If you’re not going to score, you have to make teams have bad shooting nights. We’ve done that.”
And, they did it again on Thursday.
River Valley’s only first-period points were a Jessica Steele free throw at the 4:14 mark, a Steele field goal at the 3:05 point, and finally a Jackson freebie with 1:25 to play.
But once River Valley’s Savannah Reese rained in a long two-point goal to make it 10-6 two-and-a-half minutes into the second, the Lady Raiders never got closer the rest of the way.
Instead, Meigs was in the bonus free-throw situation for the half’s final 4:50 — as Kassidy Betzing and Devin Humphreys both meshed 3-of-4, while Dani Morris split a pair.
Betzing added a pair of pull-up jumpers in the frame, as she scored 10 points — while Humphreys had three field goals en route to nine.
“Offensively, we’re getting shots that we want. We’re trying to not settle for open threes, we’re trying to get the ball into the paint and cause contact and get to the line. But you have to make shots consistently to be a very good team and we’re just not there yet,” said Kasun. “Hopefully, those shots will start falling for us.”
More of them began to drop in the second half, when Meigs amounted 34 points to the Raiders’ 23.
With the Marauders leading 26-19, they scored seven unanswered in a matter of 50 seconds, giving them their largest lead (33-19) at that point — which then wasn’t matched until exactly eight minutes later.
Marissa Noble nailed a three off the wing, Betzing bagged another pull-up jump shot, and Fields made a midcourt steal and converted into a layup.
The Lady Raiders recovered briefly — with baskets by Steele and Jackson and a Kaylee Gillman three-pointer — but they trailed by double figures for the game’s final 7:50.
“We played real hard, but we didn’t play real well,” said River Valley coach Stephen Roderick. “We’re still learning things and trying to get our feet. The girls just didn’t shoot well. It just felt like there was a lid on the basket and you will have nights like that. We had a lot of foul trouble too. Some of those were dumb fouls, but then other girls were just playing so hard that they are going to get fouls when they play aggressive. This was a big league game that we really needed. I’m not disappointed in their effort, but we just need to do things better.”
Jackson — on five field goals and 4-of-6 free throws — led the Lady Raiders with 14 points.
Steele scored seven, including their final points on a pair of foul shots with two-and-a-half minutes to play.
Beth Gillman made two threes to keep the Lady Raiders within seven, including a half-court heave to beat the first-half buzzer.
Reese landed the club’s fourth and final triple in the fourth period, as Cierra Roberts registered a second-stanza field goal.
Noble notched eight points and Morris managed six, as Madison Hendricks hit a trey and a deuce in the second half.
Alli Hatfield had a field goal for Meigs two minutes into the second quarter, making it 10-4.
Betzing with nine, Morris with eight and Humphreys with seven paced the Lady Marauders in rebounding.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106