RACINE, Ohio — The Lady Marauders got it done with stingy defense.
The Meigs girls basketball team forced 28 turnovers and held non-conference host Southern under 20 percent from the field on Thursday evening, as the Lady Marauders claimed a 57-24 victory in a battle of Meigs County teams.
Meigs (1-1) — which dropped its season opener at Morgan, by a 64-38 final on Monday —never trailed against the Lady Tornadoes (0-1), scoring the first seven points and ultimately leading 11-4 after eight minutes.
The Lady Marauders continued to build their lead in the second stanza, forcing 10 turnovers and outscoring their host 15-to-6 to make the halftime margin 26-10.
MHS pushed its lead to as many as 27 points in the third quarter and the Maroon and Gold took a 44-18 advantage into the finale.
After an SHS trifecta to start the fourth quarter, Meigs reeled off 11 straight points and led by a game-high 34 points. Southern outscored its guest 3-to-2 over the final two minutes, putting the finishing touches on the Lady Marauders’ 57-24 triumph.
“Southern is a good win for us,” said second-year MHS head coach Jarrod Kasun. “We played well, but we still need to shoot the ball better. We moved the ball very well today and we had a lot of open shots. If we can start hitting the shots, it can be really positive.”
For the game, the Lady Marauders hit 22-of-66 (33 percent) field goals, including 7-of-24 (29.2 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, the Lady Tornadoes were 9-for-55 (16.4 percent) from the field, including 1-for-7 (14.3 percent) from deep. Both teams made 50 percent from the free throw line, Meigs in 12 attempts and Southern in 10.
“I think the one thing was that they shot the ball a whole lot better than we did tonight,” said first-year SHS head coach David Kight. “It had a little bit of a snow ball effect, we’d miss a couple shots and they’d make a couple shots. We never really got into an offensive rhythm.”
Southern won the rebounding battle by a 44-to-39 count, despite Meigs holding a 16-to-14 edge on the offensive glass. The Maroon and Gold won the turnover battle by a 28-to-11 count, while holding advantages of 18-to-6 in assists, 17-to-4 in steals and 9-to-4 in blocked shots.
“Our defensive pressure is what’s going to carry us this year,” said Kasun. “We’re not very tall, so we have to get up in your face. We don’t want to play a half court game, because we’re going to get killed on the boards. Southern did a great job on the boards against us.”
All-11 Lady Marauders scored in the win, led by junior Madison Fields with 11 points. Kassidy Betzing was next with nine points, followed by Becca Pullins with seven. Taylor Swartz and Devin Humphreys both had six points, Jacynda Glover chipped in with five, Marissa Noble added four, and Kylee Blanks marked three. Alyssa Smith, Madison Hendricks and Jerrica Smith each had two points for the victors.
Betzing dished out a game-high six assists and pulled in a team-best seven rebounds, while Noble and Blanks with five boards apiece. Betzing also led the Maroon and Gold on defense with four steals and two rejections.
The Purple and Gold were led by Baylee Wolfe with six points, followed by Paige VanMeter with five and Phoenix Cleland with four. Shelbi Dailey, Lauren Lavender, Shelby Cleland and Caelin Seth had two points apiece for Southern, while Jaiden Roberts added one.
Wolfe pulled in a game-high 12 rebounds, followed by Phoenix Cleland — who had team-bests of four assists and two blocked shots — with eight boards. Wolfe and Roberts both came up with two steals in the setback.
“This is game 1-of-22, if this is still happening in game eight, then we have a problem,” Kight said. “Right now, there’s a lot that we can build on. We got good shots, we just didn’t knock them down. Meigs is a more experienced team than we are.
“We didn’t make shots early and we needed to get off to a quicker start for their confidence sake,” added Kight. “It didn’t happen, but they kept playing hard. The greatest thing was that they played hard for 32 minutes. When I talked to them, they listened and we tried to fix things that were wrong. All-in-all I’m excited about this group.”
Southern begins league play on Monday at Miller. Meigs has one more non-conference tilt before its league slate begins, as the Lady Marauders visit Warren on Monday.
“Warren is a very, very tough team,” Kasun said. “Their girls are well-coached, they play tough and they’re very physical. It’s going to be a different style of game, but we’re going in there with a little momentum. When you start seeing the ball go through the hoop, your team just really perks up.”
Thursday was only time this season that the Lady Marauders and Lady Tornadoes are scheduled to meet.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.