LOGAN, Ohio — Ed Fry didn’t call timeout, and Kaileb Sheets didn’t hesitate.
What the Meigs Marauders did do, however, was charge back from an early deficit to advance to Saturday night’s sectional championship tilt.
Thanks to Sheets sinking the tie-breaking but game-winning shot, the Marauders captured a thrilling 47-45 victory over the Logan Elm Braves on Wednesday night in the Division II boys basketball sectional semifinals inside Jim Myers Gymnasium in Logan.
In a back-and-forth affair from tip to final buzzer, the senior Sheets stole the show in the final 14 seconds.
With Meigs leading 45-43, Logan Elm standout Ridge Young hit a pull-up jump shot to forge the final of the game’s three ties.
The Marauders raced back up the floor, as the head coach Fry choose not to call a timeout — and the point guard Sheets saw an opening in the lane.
Sheets dribble-drove and stopped about five feet from the basket, lofting a soft shot over the outstretched hand of Logan Elm defender Dylan Smith.
Sheets’ shot dropped through the net with two-and-a-half seconds remaining.
The second-year Meigs mentor Fry, in his postgame interview, demonstrated with his hands how close he was to calling a timeout.
Turns out he was glad he didn’t.
“My hands were about this close, about a couple inches away from calling the timeout there. But I saw that they (Braves) were really in scramble mode (on defense). I would rather have the ball in Kaileb’s hands going full speed to the basket in that situation,” said Fry. “If I called timeout, we would be going against a set defense. Sometimes that is the best way to go at the end of a game, and it worked out tonight.”
Indeed it did, and the Marauders — now an impressive 18-4 — moved on to Saturday night’s Division II sectional championship game against Fairfield Union.
Meigs is the fourth-seeded squad in the Logan sectional, and faces the top-seeded Falcons, which defeated Marietta 87-75 on Wednesday in the other sectional semifinal at Logan.
Logan Elm, the fifth seed, ended its season at 17-6.
Although, the junior Young — after already tying the contest with his game-high 23 points — actually got a great half-court look for a possible buzzer-beating game-winning shot.
He missed, though, and the Marauders marched on as a result — winning the most games in a single season since 1987.
Meigs trailed by as many as seven points twice (11-4 and 13-6) midway through the opening quarter, but battled back with a 17-7 run over a span of eight minutes and 50 seconds to take a 21-18 lead.
The Marauders’ largest advantage stood at 39-33 at the end of the third quarter, but the Braves opened the final period with a 7-0 spurt in the first four minutes and eight seconds.
However, Colton Lilly — who scored 14 points and overcame early foul trouble — scored four straight points on a free throw and top-of-the-key three-pointer to make it 44-40 Meigs with 2:12 to play.
That’s when matters got precarious for the Marauders, as Luke Musser — who led the Maroon and Gold with 17 points including five three-point goals — suffered an ankle injury and did not return.
Then, Logan Elm’s Stephen Saxton found Young open against the Meigs zone for a basket — and an old-fashioned three-point play with 53 seconds left.
With 44.5 seconds remaining, Meigs’ Christian Mattox split a pair of free throws, and Sheets saved the Marauders from a tie just 15 seconds later when he blocked the inside shot of Smith.
The Marauders could have lessened the end-of-game drama, but Dillon Mahr missed both of the double-bonus free throws — following his rebound on Sheets’ block of Smith.
Young needed just seven seconds to forge the 45-45 tie, but Sheets had plenty of time to sprint back up the court and get a run at the bucket — which is exactly what he did.
Sheets scored eight points on four field goals, while Lilly landed five field goals and 2-of-4 free throws for his 14.
Mattox made two field goals and 3-of-4 freebies for seven, while Mahr split a pair of tosses in the third frame.
Fortunately for the Marauders, they overcame 21 turnovers and only making 6-of-13 free throws, as Musser made five threes to provide Meigs with a spark.
With Logan Elm ahead 14-12, Musser made his first trey from the top of the key, giving Meigs its first lead with nine minutes and 10 seconds gone by.
He then canned one from the left corner at the 5:15 mark of the second quarter, making it 18-14, before his final of the canto from the left wing made it 21-18 with 2:40 to play.
In the third, he drilled two triples from the right corner, book-ending a 10-2 run over the stanza’s final 4:50.
Fry said since Musser didn’t score in Saturday night’s (Feb. 13) Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division game at Vinton County, something had to change.
“He (Musser) went scoreless against Vinton County, and we couldn’t have that again. We’ve set some things up for him the last two days in practice. We set some things up to get him some open looks and it worked. He did his job by knocking them down,” said the coach.
So did Lilly, who also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, when Meigs needed one.
Trailing 26-21, Lilly landed his first three at the 6:20 mark of the third — before his other that made it 44-40 and set up the final 2:12.
The Marauders shot 43.5-percent (17-of-20) from the field, compared to 34.5-percent (19-of-55) for the Braves, but Logan Elm only made four of its 22 trey tries against Meigs’ zone.
In fact, three of those were in the opening quarter, when Young, Preston Schultz and Marcus Paul popped one apiece in building the 11-4 and 13-6 leads.
“As a coach, sometimes we out-think ourselves, and I designed this great defense to stop Ridge Young. Of course, that is why we got down seven so early. So we went back to our bread-and-butter, which is our 1-3-1 (zone defense),” said Fry. “Once we started blocking out better on the boards, and came up with some loose balls here and there, we played a lot better.”
Indeed the Marauders did defensively.
Schultz sank the only other LE three, which made it 31-26 in favor of the Braves at the five-minute mark of the third.
Young, despite 10 total field goals, took 25 shots — and didn’t make any of his final 10 three-point tries.
He also made off with a game-high four steals.
Smith scored the team’s pair of two-pointers in the first frame, finishing with five field goals for 10 points.
Saxton scored three second-period points on a field goal and free throw, and snared a game-high nine rebounds.
Schultz and Sheets had four assists apiece, but it was Sheets’ shot in the final 2.5 seconds that moved the Marauders on.
This season’s sectional at Logan featured five squads with at least 17 wins.
Fry said Wednesday night’s matchup was as tough as they come.
“Every basket tonight for both teams was just hard fought,” he said. “It was tough to score in there and keep them from scoring. But this four-five (seeded) match pretty much says these two teams are about equal. I said when I watched films of them it’s like looking into a mirror — watching them play and watching us play. But our kids did a great job down the stretch tonight. We really earned a hard-fought win.”
Meigs’ most recent sectional championship was three years ago — as a Division III school.
The Marauders must be clicking on all cylinders Saturday night to clip Fairfield Union.
Tipoff time in Logan is set for 7 p.m.
“They (Falcons) shoot the ball well and they have that size inside,” said Fry. “That’s our biggest concern, because we’re really not that strong of a rebounding team. We have to put some extra effort into that. But we’ll be ready to go.”
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106