ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — Just a little too late.
Visiting Jackson hit 19 of its first 31 shot attempts and led by as many as 23 points two minutes into the third quarter before ultimately hanging on for a 75-63 victory over the Meigs boys basketball team on Friday night in a non-conference matchup at Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium in Meigs County.
The host Marauders (3-5) built a quick 3-0 lead just 36 seconds into regulation, but the Ironmen (6-1) rallied by hitting 5-of-8 shot attempts during a 10-0 surge that gave the Red and White a permanent cushion.
JHS — which netted 8-of-13 field goal attempts in the first quarter and 16-of-29 attempts in the first half — led by as many as nine in the opening canto and took a 21-13 advantage after eight minutes of play.
Caleb Wallis hit a basket just 13 seconds into the second period for a double-digit lead, and Jackson ultimately led by at least 10 points over the course of the rest of the first half.
Weston Baer had just trimmed the deficit down to 38-22 with a pair of free throws with 3.5 seconds left, but Wallis caught the inbounds pass and dribbled down the left side before releasing a 25-foot heave just before the buzzer sounded.
Wallis ended up capping a 20-9 second quarter run after the heave bounced off the glass and into the basket, giving the guests a comfortable 41-22 cushion at the break.
Besides shooting 60 percent from the field in the first half, the Ironmen also made 4-of-7 trifectas and committed only four turnovers.
The Maroon and Gold, conversely, made just 8-of-28 shot attempts before halftime and was 1-of-9 from behind the arc. The hosts also held an 18-16 edge on the glass and committed only three turnovers.
Jackson went on to make four of its first five shot attempts of the second half and held its largest lead of the night of 47-24 following a Yates basket with 6:09 remaining, but the Marauders rallied with a 12-6 spurt to close the deficit down to 53-36 entering the finale.
Wallis sank two free throws with 4:34 left in regulation to extend the lead back out to 62-43, but some full-court defensive pressure led to some turnovers — which in turn led to a remarkable 18-2 charge over the next 2:25 that whittled the lead down to 64-61 with 2:09 remaining.
The Ironmen, however, received a critical 3-pointer from Nevan Yates seven seconds later, sparking a 9-0 run that again extended the lead back out to double figures at 73-61.
Both teams traded two points apiece over the final 11 seconds of regulation, allowing the Red and White to escape with a 12-point triumph.
The early hole ultimately proved to be too large to climb out of, but first-year MHS coach Jeremy Hill was pleased with at least one aspect of the contest. More than anything, he at least feels that his troops know exactly what they are capable of moving forward.
“We didn’t play particularly well from the get-go, so we challenged the kids at halftime about hustle and heart,” Hill said. “Jackson came in here with a very fine ball club and if they shoot like they did tonight, nobody is going to beat them. Nobody. However, our defense allowed some of that to happen. We put up a much better fight in the second half and we managed to make a game of things late, but we just couldn’t get over the hump.
“Now, Jackson came in here and slapped us in the mouth and we went down to the mat. What I liked was seeing how our kids got off the mat and fought back. The one good thing about tonight was that we found our identity. If we play that hard for four quarters instead of two, the results will be a lot better for us down the road.”
Jackson made only four of its final 16 field goal tries, but the guests also sank 15-of-18 charity tosses in the fourth quarter to help offset their floor woes.
The Marauders, conversely, hit three of their five trifectas in the fourth and also went a perfect 10-of-10 at the free throw line. MHS also committed only one of the seven turnovers made during the final canto.
Meigs outrebounded JHS by a 40-32 overall margin that included a sizable 18-3 edge on the offensive glass. The Maroon and Gold also committed only seven of the 21 total turnovers in the game.
The Marauders netted 21-of-69 field goal attempts for 30 percent, including a 5-of-27 effort from 3-point territory for 19 percent. The hosts were also 16-of-28 at the free throw line for 57 percent.
Coulter Clelland led MHS with 23 points, with 17 of those coming after the intermission. Weston Baer was next with 16 points, while Nick Lilly added a double-double effort of 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Zach Bartrum was next with seven points and Ty Bartrum added five markers. Cooper Darst rounded things out with two points. Cleland and Zach Bartrum also hauled in seven and five boards, respectively.
Jackson made 24-of-48 field goal attempts for 50 percent, including a 5-of-12 effort from behind the arc for 42 percent. JHS was also 22-of-27 from the charity stripe for 81 percent.
Wallis led the Ironmen with a career-high 33 points, which included 10-point outbursts in both the second and fourth frames. Cooper Donaldson was next with a double-double effort of 19 points and 14 caroms.
Yates chipped in eight points and Traylen Davis added six markers, while Caden Donaldson, Braxton Hammond and Matt Humphreys wrapped things up with respective tallies of four, three and two points.
Meigs returns to action next Friday and Saturday when it takes part in the River City Classic held at Marietta College.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.