ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — Not a great start, not a great finish, but what happened in the middle was truly magical for the Marauders.
The Meigs boys basketball team outscored Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division guest River Valley by 21 points over the middle two quarters, as the Marauders capped off the regular season with a 61-50 victory, on Friday night inside Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium.
Both teams held a lead in the opening quarter, which ended with the score tied at 10.
The Marauders (14-8, 9-3 TVC Ohio) — winners of four straight — took their second lead of the night with 5:07 left in the first half, at 15-12, and the hosts never trailed again. Meigs led by as much as 13 in the second quarter and took a 31-20 advantage into the break.
MHS led by as much as 22, at 49-27, in the third quarter, but River Valley (8-13, 3-8) trimmed the score to 51-30 headed into the finale.
Within the opening minute of the fourth quarter, Meigs pushed its lead to a game-high 23 points, at 53-30. The Raiders ended the game on a 20-to-8 run, but the Marauders claimed the 61-50 victory.
“We tried to get our guys out of there at the end so nothing happened, it was a pretty rough game,” MHS head coach Ed Fry said. “It was a big night and a good night for our seniors. With senior night, they’re either going to come out and play really well, or they’re going to just stink. They came out and did what they needed to do tonight, so I was real proud of them. When we started extending the wings on our defense a little bit, then we started to get some steals and run outs.”
For the game, River Valley won the rebounding battle by a 38-27 clip, including 12-of-9 on the offensive end. However, the Raiders committed 30 turnovers, while Meigs gave the ball away just 13 times. The Marauders claimed advantages in assists (12-to-11) and steals (19-to-8), while RVHS held a 5-to-1 edge in blocked shots.
The Maroon and Gold shot 18-of-54 (33.3 percent) from the field, including 5-of-16 (31.3 percent) from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, River Valley shot 20-of-49 (40.8 percent), including just 1-of-14 (7.1 percent) from deep. From the free throw line, Meigs shot 20-of-32 (62.5 percent) and RVHS was 9-of-19 (47.4 percent).
“Good job Coach Fry, that defense just affects you a lot,” RVHS head coach Bryan Drummond said. “When we played them earlier in the year, they weren’t as good as they were tonight. We got open looks from guys who should be taking them and should be making them. Our press did a nice job, but my guys got a little tired, and my depth is a little lacking.”
Meigs had all 11 players mark in the scoring column, led by Luke Musser and Christian Mattox with 10 points apiece. Dillon Mahr scored eight points in the win, Weston Baer added seven, while Garrett Buckley and Zach Bartrum both marked six points.
Devon Hawley and Bailey Caruthers each contributed four points to the Marauder cause, Jared Kennedy came in with three points, while Zach Helton scored two and T.J. Williams scored one.
For Meigs, Bartrum finished with team-highs of six rebounds, three assists and five steals, while Kennedy grabbed five boards and Baer rejected a shot.
River Valley — which was limited due to both illness and injury — was led by Jarret McCarley with 17 points. Next for the Raiders was Jacob Dovenbarger — who fouled out with 4:57 left in the third quarter — with 11 points, followed by Dustin Barber with 10.
Ian Polcyn and Tre Craycraft both scored four points, while Jacob Campbell and Patrick Brown each added two points to the Raider total.
Polcyn led the guests on the glass with 10 rebounds, followed by Dovenbarger with nine. McCarley dished out a game-best five assists, while Barber marked three steals and Dovenbarger rejected three shots.
The Marauders also defeated RVHS on December 16, by a 55-52 count, in Bidwell.
Both teams return to action on the tournament.
The seventh-seeded Marauders will face second-seeded Fairfield Union in the Division II sectional final, on Saturday, at Logan High School.
“We had a real good game with Fairfield Union last year, we had to foul towards the end and they ended up beating us by 12,” Coach Fry said. “They’re a pretty good team, they’re big, and they have shooters. We have our work cut out for us, but we’ve beat some good teams this year.”
FUHS knocked Meigs from the 2016 postseason with a 59-47 sectional final victory.
Also in a rematch from last year’s tournament, 10th-seeded Raiders face sixth-seeded Alexander in the Division III sectional semifinal, on Monday, at Jackson High School.
“If we limit our turnovers, the game will be close,” Coach Drummond said of his looming sectional semifinal game. “Keep our guys on the floor, limit our turnovers, be smart and then we’ll be fine. We can play with (Alexander), we can beat them, and we can move on. That’s what we’re going to work on tomorrow morning when we get into practice.”
The Spartans — who eliminated RVHS by a 68-32 final in last year’s postseason — hold a pair of victories over the Raiders this season, as AHS won 68-38 in Albany on January 10, and 45-32 in Bidwell on January 31.
In the final TVC Ohio standings, Meigs finishes tied for second, with Athens, while River Valley claims fifth in the seven-team league. Vinton County wrapped up its second straight league crown with a 96-57 victory over Wellston, on Friday.
Prior to the game, as part of senior night festivities, MHS honored seniors Dillon Mahr, Jared Kennedy, Luke Musser, T.J. Williams and Garrett Buckley.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.