TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — Picking up right where they left off in 2016.
On Tuesday night in Meigs County, in its first game of the new year, the Meigs boys basketball team improved its winning streak to seven games, as the Marauders claimed a 59-53 victory over non-conference host Eastern, which has now lost three straight decisions.
The first quarter featured a trio of lead changes and finished with the teams tied at 11.
Meigs (7-4) built a 21-15 lead, four minutes into the second quarter, but Eastern (3-5) fought back with an 8-1 run and led 23-22 with 50 seconds left in the first half. However, the Marauders scored the final four points of the half and took a 26-23 lead into the break.
MHS led for the entire second half, beginning the third period with a 5:00, 18-to-8 run. EHS outscored its guest 9-to-2 over the remainder of the third, cutting the Marauder lead to 46-40.
MHS led by as much as 10, 52-42, in the fourth quarter, but with 40 seconds left, Eastern cut the margin to one possession at 56-53. However, the Marauders sank 3-of-4 free throws in the 30 seconds, sealing the 59-53 victory.
“I’m glad this one is over with,” Meigs head coach Ed Fry said. “Eastern is always prepared and always plays well, like when they beat us here two years ago. They were prepared tonight and I think they were more ready to than we were.”
For the game, the Marauders shot 21-of-56 (37.5 percent) from the field, including 6-of-16 (37.5 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, the Eagles were 22-of-52 (42.3 percent) from the field, including 3-of-12 (25 percent) from deep. Eastern made 6-of-7 (85.7 percent) free throw attempts, while Meigs was just 11-of-23 (47.8 percent) from the charity stripe.
“The effort was there, we made a good team scramble,” said Eastern head coach Jeremy Hill. “Meigs was a little bit better than us tonight, but you know what, I liked our chances. They executed a pretty good game plan and they played with a lot of effort. If we could go 8-to-10 deep, kind of like Meigs, then we’d probably be right there with them.”
The Marauders won the rebounding battle by a 35-to-31 clip, including 14-to-9 on the offensive glass. MHS also won the turnover battle by a 15-to-11 count, while holding an 11-to-4 advantage in steals and a 15-to-14 edge in assists.
“We’re small, but we’re fast, and we have to utilize that,” Coach Fry said of his team’s defensive pressure. “In the first half, we were out there on defense, but we weren’t aggressive. In the second half, that spurted us out there, but (Eastern) didn’t quit.”
Six Marauders filled out the scoring column, led by Christian Mattox with 19 points. Mattox also led the Maroon and Gold with four assists. Zach Bartrum scored 13 points for the victors, Luke Musser added 10 points, while Dillon Mahr chipped in with nine points and a team-best 10 rebounds.
Jared Kennedy scored six points and pulled in eight rebounds for Meigs, while Bailey Caruthers chipped in with two points. Musser led the Marauder defense with five steals, followed by Mattox with four steals and Kennedy with a blocked shot.
“We always have to try to set the tempo of the game and I think we did that tonight,” Coach Hill said. “We set the tempo and we played hard. The difference in the game, I think, was that we got fatigued. They were platooning fresh guys in and just buried us down.”
Eastern’s offense was paced by senior Jett Facemyer with 20 points, followed by Sharp Facemyer with 13 points and five assists. EHS senior Corbett Catlett turned in a double-double effort of 10 points and 13 rebounds, Garrett Barringer chipped in with six points and seven boards, while Jon Wolfe contributed four points.
Jett Facemyer also led the EHS defense with two steals and one rejection.
Meigs resumes Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division play on Friday, when the Marauders visit Athens. EHS will visit Hannan on Friday, for a non-league showdown.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.