JACKSON, Ohio — As was the case for most of the season, the Lady Marauders were close, but close wasn’t good enough.
The 10th-seeded Meigs girls basketball team — which lost seven games by two-or-fewer possessions in the regular season — was eliminated from the postseason on Wednesday night in Jackson County, falling to seventh-seeded Oak Hill by a 41-39 count in the Division III sectional semifinal.
Meigs (10-13) hit a three-pointer to open the game, but surrendered the next six points to the Lady Oaks (11-10) and never regained the advantage. The Lady Marauders tied the game at six with 3:55 left in the opening quarter, but were outscored by a 6-to-1 count over the remainder stanza.
The Maroon and Gold began the second quarter with a 6-to-4 run, trimming their deficit to just three points, at 16-13, with 4:25 left in the first half. Oak Hill held Meigs scoreless for the remainder of the half, however, and the Lady Oaks went into the break with a 21-13 advantage.
In a back-and-forth third period, the Lady Marauders cut the OHHS lead by one point, outscoring the Lady Oaks by a 11-to-10 count in the stanza.
The Oak Hill lead was back to nine points, at 33-24, within the opening 10 seconds of the fourth quarter, but an 8-to-2 Meigs run made it a one possession game, at 35-32, with 2:30 left in regulation.
The Lady Oaks were back up by six, at 40-34, with 1:15 to play, but a Kassidy Betzing trifecta and a Marissa Noble two-pointer cut the OHHS lead to one point with 49 seconds left.
Peyton Miller made a free throw for the Lady Oaks with 43 seconds to go, making it a two-point game, at 41-39. Meigs had a pair of three-point attempts bounce off the rim in the final minute, but ultimately fell by the 41-39 margin.
“The ball just wasn’t falling for us tonight, unfortunately we had a lot of shots rattle in-and-out,” said MHS head coach Jarrod Kasun said. “We came out flat in the first half, you can’t score 13 points and expect to win a tournament game. We played hard, we could have given up, we were down 6-or-8 points, but that’s what this group has done.
“You look down the stretch our last three games we lost by one, lost in overtime and lost by two. We’ve been in games, we just haven’t been able to get over the hump this year.”
Both teams made 13 field goals in the game, Meigs in 50 attempts for 26 percent and Oak Hill in just 27 attempts for 48.1 percent. From beyond the arc, the Lady Marauders were 7-of-28 (25 percent), while the Lady Oaks were 1-of-5 (20 percent).
MHS shot 6-of-10 (60 percent) from the free throw line, where OHHS was 14-of-24 (58.3 percent).
The Maroon and Gold claimed a narrow 24-to-23 rebounding advantage, including 11-to-4 on the offensive end. MHS turned the ball over nine times, five fewer than the victors, while picking up an 8-to-6 advantage in steals. Meigs also claimed a 8-to-6 edge in assists, while both teams rejected two shots.
Betzing hit a trio of three-pointers and led Meigs with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists. Madison Fields connected on a pair of triples and finished eight points, while Madison Hendricks made one trifecta and had five points.
Noble and Taylor Swartz scored four points apiece in the setback, with Noble also grabbing six boards. Becca Pullins rounded out the Lady Marauder total with three points on a long ball.
Betzing also led the Maroon and Gold on defense with four steals, while Noble and Pullins each blocked a shot.
OHHS sophomore Caitlyn Brisker hit the team’s only three-pointer and finished with a game-high 20 points, to go along with a team-best two assists. Bailey Ward had six points and a team-best six rebounds for Oak Hill, while Peyton Miller chipped in with five points and five boards.
Payton Crabtree, Kasey Riley and Olivia Clarkson contributed two points each to the winning tally, with Crabtree leading the Lady Oak defense with four steals.
With the setback, the Lady Marauders must say farewell to their two seniors, Madison Hendricks and Devin Humphreys.
“Devin, she was playing well all year and when we lost her to a knee at Vinton, that really shortened our bench up,” Kasun said. “She played solidly all year, she was a good rebounded, a good defender and could step out and hit shots. Madison Hendricks started off a little bit slow, her confidence was down at the beginning of the year, but then she really turned it on in the last half of the year and made our team a lot better.”
With the majority of the team returning, Meigs is looking forward to the future.
“We’ll have to work over this summer and come back next year,” Kasun said. “We’re going to work them, we’re going to be in here in the summer, it’s not an offseason. We’re going to get to the weight room, work on our shot and work on our handles. They can still play other sports, we just need to get into a rhythm and have others step up.”
Oak Hill returns to Jackson High School on Saturday when they meet second-seeded Southeastern in the Division III sectional final.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.