ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — Now that’s how you finish what your started.
The Meigs boys basketball team sank 5-of-6 free throws in the final 1:30 of Tuesday night’s non-conference season opener at Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium. Meanwhile, the MHS defense held visiting Belpre to just one field goal in that span to seal a 64-57 Marauders victory.
The Marauders (1-0) stormed out of the gates and led 17-7 at the end of the opening stanza. Belpre (0-2) rallied back and outscored MHS 16-to-9 in the second period, trimming the deficit to 26-23 at halftime.
Meigs senior Colton Lilly, who was held scoreless in the opening half, scored 10 of the Marauders’ 18 third quarter points and MHS led 46-34 headed into the final period.
The Golden Eagles cut the lead to 10 points midway through the fourth quarter and pulled to within five points with 1:30 left in regulation. Belpre never got closer than five in the final period however, and Meigs claimed the 64-57 win.
“Belpre really came to play,” MHS head coach Ed Fry said. “We thought we were on the verge of putting them away a couple of times, but they’re physical and they fought right back. It was a hard-fought game on both sides. They made us play a lot of half court in the second period, that’s not our preferred style of playing and it really showed.”
MHS juniors Jared Kennedy and Luke Musser led the Maroon and Gold, scoring 17 points apiece. Lilly finished with 12 points, Kaileb Sheets and Tyler Fields both added eight, while Dillon Mahr and Christian Mattox each scored one point in the win.
Meigs, which pulled in 41 rebounds including 20 offensive, was led on the glass by Kennedy with 11 rebounds and Lilly with 10.
“We’ve really been challenging them on the boards,” Fry said. “I think we held our own on there and that’s going to be key for us. Jared Kennedy really showed out tonight on the boards and made some great plays under there.”
Sheets accounted for seven of Meigs’ 13 assists, while Musser paced the defense with four steals and a block. Lilly and Mahr both had two steals, Kennedy added two blocks, while Sheets had one steal and one block. As a team Meigs had nine steals, five blocks and 10 turnovers.
Meigs hit 9-of-16 (56.3 percent) free throw attempts and 26-of-61 (42.6 percent) field goal attempts, including 3-of-13 (23.1 percent) attempts from three-point range.
Tavian Miller led the way for the Golden Eagles with 16 points, followed by Nathan Mason with 11 and Mythius Houghton with nine. Deijon Bedgood had seven points, Tik Wong added five, Cole Knotts chipped in with three, while Ryan Simoniette, Brayden Longfellow and Bailey Sprague each had two points.
Belpre had 33 rebounds (13 offensive), 12 assists, eight steals and 17 turnovers in the setback. The Golden Eagles were a near-perfect 17-of-18 (94.4 percent) from the free throw line and shot 18-of-59 (30.5 percent) from the field, including 4-of-28 (14.3 percent) from three-point range.
Mason led Belpre on the glass with seven rebounds, followed by Miller with six. Miller and Ethan Williams both had three assists in the setback, while the BHS defensive effort was led by Miller, Mason and Williams with two steals each.
This is the first time Meigs has started the season with a win since 2008, when MHS claimed a 73-66 victory over Belpre.
“It’s good to get that first one out of the way,” said Fry. “The kids were tired of practicing and I was tired of practicing, so we were happy to get out here on the court. Now we can see what we really need to focus on and work on to get better.”
Meigs returns to action on Friday when the Maroon and Gold visit Warren, which has knocked MHS out of the postseason in back-to-back years.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.