ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — A remarkable comeback, but a heart-breaking end.
The Meigs boys basketball team rallied from a 16-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the game at 60 with 17 seconds left on Tuesday at Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium, but Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division guest Athens answered with a 6-0 run for a 66-60 victory.
The Marauders (1-6, 1-2 TVC Ohio) took their only lead of the night at 4-2 2:21 into play on a Wyatt Hoover two-pointer, but Athens took the lead back with a trifecta 33 seconds later.
AHS was ahead 14-10 at the end of the opening period, before Meigs scored four in a row to start the second. However, Athens closed the half with a 16-to-4 run and headed into the locker room on top 30-18.
The Bulldog lead was as low as seven points, after MHS started the second half with an 8-to-3 run. Athens answered with six straight points for a 39-26 advantage with 4:34 left in the third quarter. The teams traded buckets over the remainder of the period, and AHS headed into the finale with a 48-35 edge.
The guests began the fourth quarter with a 6-to-3 spurt, and led by a game-best 16 points, at 54-38, with six minutes to play. Meigs — which pulled in a dozen offensive rebounds and forced seven turnovers in the fourth quarter — scored 22 of the next 28 points, tying the at 60 on a three-pointer from Braylon Harrison.
Will Matters gave the Bulldogs a two-point lead with back-to-back free throws two seconds later, and then the Marauders committed just their second turnover of the period. Matters went back to the line and sank two free throws after an intentional foul with three seconds left. Athens capped off the 66-60 victory with a two-pointer at the buzzer.
For the game, the Marauders had a 41-to-19 rebounding advantage, including 25-to-5 on the offensive end. MHS had 17 turnovers, one less than Athens. The hosts combined for 10 steals, nine assists and one blocked shot, while AHS had 14 assists, seven steals and five rejections.
Meigs shot 20-of-63 (31.7 percent) from the field, including 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) from three-point range, while the Bulldogs were 22-of-41 (53.7 percent) from the field, including 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) from deep. At the foul line, MHS was 14-of-22 (63.6 percent), and AHS was 17-of-22 (77.3 percent).
A trio of Marauders recorded double-doubles in the setback, with Coulter Cleland posting team-highs of 16 points and 14 rebounds, as well as four assists and four steals. Wyatt Hoover had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the hosts, Harrison added a dozen points on four trifectas, while Andrew Dodson tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Ethan Stewart scored four points for Meigs, Brody Butcher contributed three points, while Caleb Burnem chipped in with two.
Leading the Bulldogs, Brayden Whiting had 34 points and six rebounds before picking up his fifth foul with 4:19 to play. Matters and Derrick Welsh contributed nine points apiece to the winning cause, Trey Harris added seven, while Jake Sayers scored five.
Whiting also led the Green and Gold on defense with three steals and two rejections.
The Marauders will look for revenge when these teams meet on Jan. 29 in Athens County.
Next, Meigs will visit Southern on Tuesday.
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Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.