ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — The Marauders seem to be picking up steam.
The Meigs boys basketball team claimed its fifth win in its last seven chances on Tuesday evening in Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium, defeating non-conference guest Point Pleasant by a 61-58 final.
The Marauders (5-11) never trailed in the first half, hitting a trio of three-pointers in the first four minutes and leading by a 9-4 count. Meigs outscored Point Pleasant (1-12) by a 10-4 count over the next four minutes and headed into the second quarter with a 19-8 advantage.
The Big Blacks were held off the board for the first three minutes of the second quarter, as the Marauder lead grew to a game-high 16 points, at 24-8. Meigs only hit one more field goal in the first half, however, as Point Pleasant trimmed the deficit to 30-25 by halftime.
The Maroon and Gold began the second half with a 6-to-2 run and led by nine points, at 36-27, with 6:00 left in the third quarter. Sparked by four three-pointers, Point Pleasant ended the third with a 13-to-10 spurt and headed into the finale trailing 46-40.
The hosts scored the first four points of the fourth and led 50-40 with 6:00 to play. Over the next four minutes, PPHS made four more trifectas and outscored Meigs 15-to-6, cutting the deficit to one point, at 56-55.
With 1:40 left in the game, the Big Blacks took their first lead, as Camron Long drained a three-pointer, the teams’ fifth of the quarter and ninth of the half. However, Point Pleasant didn’t score again.
Meigs tied the game with a two-pointer at the 1:23 mark, and then, with 38 seconds left, MHS sophomore Weston Baer hit a pair of free throws to give the hosts a 60-58 lead. Nick Lilly added a free throw with 19 seconds left to cap off the Marauders’ 61-58 victory.
“I think the key was our two experienced guards, Zach (Bartrum) a returning starter and Weston (Baer) our sixth-man last year who started a few,” MHS head coach Ed Fry said. “The key late, I told them ‘you guys keep the ball in your hands’. We did that and we executed well under pressure. We work on those things in practice, so we know what to do, but sometimes we don’t always execute it.”
For the game, Meigs shot 17-of-43 (38.5 percent) from the field, including 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, Point Pleasant was 20-of-50 (40 percent) from the field, including 10-of-27 (37 percent) from beyond the arc.
Both teams excelled from the free throw line, MHS making 23-of-26 (88.5 percent) and PPHS making 8-of-9 (88.9 percent).
“Hats’ off to Meigs and Coach Fry, they played a hard game,” PPHS head coach Josh Williams said. “He does an excellent job with the program, he’s a great coach and he made some adjustments that threw us off. We got the ball inside early and took advantage of that. Of course, being the good coach that he is, he took that away from us. That opened it up for us to get some clean looks. Once we got some momentum and saw a few go down, I felt like the kids started feeding off that.
“Our bench was great tonight about encouraging the players that were out there,” Williams added. “I’m very proud of our kids, I thought they played hard and played together. It was probably one of the more complete game we played, besides the turnovers.”
The Big Blacks committed 19 turnovers in the game, nine more than the Marauders. PPHS won the rebounding battle by a 28-to-20 count, including 13-to-8 on the offensive end. Point Pleasant recorded the game’s only two blocked shots and held a 17-to-12 assists advantage, while Meigs claimed a 14-to-7 edge in steals.
This marks Meigs’ first win on its home floor this season, ending a four-game home skid.
“We’re young and we like to play on the road, and I honestly think they get a little tensed up here at home,” Fry said. “Point Pleasant, as long as you can shoot the way they can shoot, you should always be in the game. They’ve had a lot of similar things happen with injuries and other things like we have, so I thought it might be pretty close coming into this thing.”
Baer hit a pair of three-pointers and finished with a game-high 28 points, a dozen of which came from the free throw line. Bartrum was a perfect 8-of-8 from the line and finished with 17 points, to go with a team-best seven assists. Baer and Bartrum tied for a team-high with five rebounds apiece, with Baer leading the MHS defense with six steals.
Bobby Musser and Wyatt Hoover both scored six points for the victors, while Nick Lilly came up with four points.
Long led the Big Blacks with 18 points, coming on six three-pointers, while Kade Oliver came in with 15 points. PPHS senior Trace Derenberger — who led the PPHS defense with two steals and a block — had a double-double of 12 points and 15 rebounds, to go with a game-high eight assists.
Hunter Bush scored nine for the guests, while Kyle Martin added four.
“We’ve been shooting the ball a lot in practice and it seemed like tonight it finally started to pay off a little bit,” Williams said. “We just have to work on taking care of the ball. I think they saw that getting the ball inside really helps them outside in the long run. I think that’ll be something we continue to work on.
“We have a unique situation with our two bigs,” added Williams. “They have a great chemistry with each other and if we continue to work through them, I think we’ll be fine. I felt like we took a step in the right direction tonight, as a team and a staff.”
Point Pleasant will try to snap its 10-game skid on Saturday at Southern.
After hosting Nelsonville-York on Wednesday, Meigs will return to action on Friday at Wellston.
“We have some games here to close out the season, that we have a good opportunity to win if we play well,” Fry said. “That’s the key, we have to play well. After everything we’ve faced this year, it would be terrific to go on a nice little streak.”
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.