ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — There is still a long way to go for these youngsters, but the signs of growth are there.
The Meigs girls basketball team held its own for well over three quarters, but visiting Vinton County made a 15-10 run over the final 6:22 of regulation Monday night en route to a 56-51 decision in a Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division matchup at Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium.
The Lady Marauders (1-6, 0-4 TVC Ohio) dropped their fifth straight decision and never led in the first half, but the hosts used a 12-6 third quarter run to turn a five-point halftime deficit into a slim 39-38 edge headed into the finale.
The Lady Vikings (5-2, 2-1) traded leads before ultimately reaching a 41-all tie with 6:27 left in regulation, then Michaela Puckett hit a free throw five seconds later that allowed VCHS to claim a permanent lead of 42-41.
Puckett’s successful free throw also sparked an 8-0 run over the next three minutes, allowing the guests to claim their largest lead of the second half at 49-41 with 3:31 remaining. MHS closed to within 55-51 with 11 seconds left in regulation, but eventually fell by five points.
Meigs — which has only three seniors while starting two freshmen — finished the night with a better overall field goal percentage and fewer turnovers than the Lady Vikings, and the hosts also rallied back from a nine-point first quarter deficit.
First-year Meigs coach Scott Cleland was disappointed to see such a solid performance end up resulting in a loss, but that was about the only negative he could come up with when discussing his troops afterwards.
“Honestly, after the game, we went through every positive thing that we did tonight. Every single one of them contributed and we were able to be competitive because of it,” Cleland said. “We are still young, but we are getting better with every single quarter in every single game.
“Tonight, we received a standing ovation in a loss to a pretty darn good team. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that, but it happened because the fans appreciated our effort. We have a lot of wins ahead of this with that kind of effort.”
VCHS jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the opening 90 seconds, but the hosts answered by tying things up at both 4- and 6-all. The Lady Vikings, however, received a trifecta from Hannah Radabaugh at the 4:03 mark for a 9-6 edge.
The guests followed with a 10-4 surge over the next 3:55 as Darian Radabaugh hit a trifecta with eight second left, giving Vinton County a 19-10 cushion. Kassidy Betzing nailed a trifecta from the top of the key just before the horn sounded, allowing the hosts to close to within 19-13 through eight minutes of play.
MHS twice pulled to within a point in the opening two minutes of the second stanza, but the Lady Vikes turned a 21-20 edge into a 32-24 lead in under four minutes. Meigs, however, scored the final three points of the half and trailed 32-27 at the break.
The Lady Marauders missed their first seven shot attempts of the third canto, but the hosts still managed to knot things up at 34 and then took their first lead of the game (37-34) at the 1:42 mark following consecutive baskets by Sarah Dowell.
The Maroon and Gold also led 39-36 with 16 second left in the period, but Jalen Hale hit a jumper six second later to make it a one-point contest headed into the fourth.
Meigs connected on 19-of-60 shot attempts for 32 percent, including a 5-of-14 effort from 3-point range for 36 percent. The hosts committed 19 turnovers and also went 7-of-11 at the free throw line for 64 percent.
Betzing led the Lady Marauders with 14 points, followed by Madison Fields with 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Dowell and Sadie Fox were next with seven markers apiece, while Madison Hendricks added four points.
Halley Barnes, Danielle Morris and Alli Hatfield each contributed two points, while Courtney Jones rounded things out with one marker. The hosts were outrebounded by a 43-36 overall margin, including a 15-11 discrepancy on the offensive glass.
VCHS netted 16-of-55 field goal attempts for 29 percent, which included a 7-of-19 effort from behind the arc for 37 percent. The guests committed 20 turnovers and also sank 17-of-32 charity tosses for 53 percent.
Puckett led the Maroon and Gray with game-high efforts of 21 points and 17 rebounds, followed by Hale with 13 points and Sammy Thompson with 11 markers. Hannah Radabaugh was next with six points, while Darian Radabaugh added three markers.
Erin Jones and Sara Owings rounded out the winning tally with one point apiece. VCHS has now won two straight, both overall and in conference play.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.