LOGAN, Ohio — The difference came after halftime.
The Meigs girls basketball team won three of the four periods on the scoreboard, but host Vinton County made a 19-5 third quarter charge and eventually held on for a 54-47 victory in a Division II sectional semifinal held at Jim Myers Gymnasium on the campus of Logan High School.
The sixth-seeded Marauders (10-13) gave the third-seeded Lady Vikings (17-6) a true postseason test early on, as the guests led 8-6 after one quarter and were ahead by as many as nine points (22-13) with three minutes left in the opening half.
VCHS, however, whittled its deficit down to 26-22 at the break, then went on a 17-2 charge over the opening five minutes of the third period — giving the Maroon and Gray their largest lead of the game at 39-28 with 2:59 remaining. MHS closed the canto with a 3-2 run to trail 41-31 headed into the finale.
The Lady Marauders trimmed the lead down to two possessions (47-42) with 1:30 left in regulation and were within three points (50-47) with 23 seconds remaining, but the Maroon and Gold never came closer the rest of the way.
Vinton County scored the final four points of the contest to sew up the seven-point decision and also earned a date in Saturday’s sectional final against second-ranked Sheridan.
It was a disappointing outcome after such a solid overall effort, but first-year MHS coach Scott Cleland was not only pleased with his troops afterwards — but he also noted that this was a good indication of better things to come for the Lady Marauders’ program.
“It’s sad to lose, but in looking around that locker room after the game — we have 10 kids that are returning and they are already ready to get started on next year. Having that many kids back next year with quality varsity experience will be huge for us,” Cleland said. “Those seniors should also take a lot of pride in what’s gone on in this program this year. We doubled our win total and had four times as many wins in league than a year ago. Those three seniors really did a great job in providing the leadership for us to get where we have this year.”
Vinton County — which also claimed wins of 56-51 and 52-36 over Meigs in the regular season — had a strong start after jumping out to a 6-0 edge two minutes in, but the Lady Marauders ended the opening canto with eight consecutive points for an early two-point lead.
Michaela Puckett ended an 8:12 scoreless drought for VCHS as her bucket at the 5:37 mark cut the Meigs lead down to 14-8. The hosts closed the final five minutes of the first half with a small 14-12 spurt, allowing Meigs a four-point cushion at the break.
Trailing 28-25 with 6:28 left in the third period, Puckett buried a pair of trifectas over the next 90 seconds — which allowed the Maroon and Gray to secure a permanent lead at 31-28 with five minutes left. VCHS closed the canto with a 10-3 run for a double-digit edge headed into the finale.
Meigs connected on 19-of-44 field goal attempts for 43 percent, including a 6-of-17 effort from three-point range for 35 percent. The guests committed 20 turnovers — five apiece in each quarter — and also went 3-of-4 at the free throw line for 75 percent.
Kassidy Betzing led MHS with 12 points, followed by Madison Hendricks and Devin Humphreys with nine and eight markers respectively. Marissa Noble was next with six points, while Madison Fields chipped in five markers.
Danielle Morris contributed three points for the Lady Marauders, while Halley Barnes and Alli Hatfield rounded things out with two markers each. Morris also hauled in a team-high seven rebounds in the setback.
Vinton County connected on 18-of-58 field goal attempts for 31 percent, including a 2-of-16 effort from behind the arc for 13 percent. The hosts committed 14 turnovers and also netted 16-of-27 charity tosses for 59 percent.
Jalen Hale paced VCHS with game-highs of 16 points and nine rebounds, followed by Puckett with 15 points and Samantha Thompson with 13 markers. Erin Jones and Katie Fee each contributed three points, while Darian Radabaugh and Hannah Radabaugh rounded things out with two markers apiece.
The Lady Vikings outrebounded the guests by a 37-25 overall margin, which included a sizable 18-4 edge on the offensive glass.
It was the final basketball game for seniors Halley Barnes, Haiden English and Sadie Fox in the Maroon and Gold. Meigs finished the year in a three-way tie for fourth place in the TVC Ohio with River Valley and Athens, all of which went 4-8 in conference play.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.