LOGAN, Ohio — For 30-plus minutes, it appeared that the Lady Marauders’ season was about to come to an end.
Fortunately for the Meigs girls basketball team, regulation lasts 32 minutes.
The fourth-seeded Lady Marauders trailed by 11 points in each of the four frames of play, but an 18-5 charge over the final 6:52 of regulation ultimately resulted in an inspiring 44-42 win over fifth-seeded Jackson in a Division II sectional semifinal contest at Katie Smith Gymnasium on the campus of Logan Middle School in Hocking County.
Meigs (13-10) scored the opening basket of the game as Kassidy Betzing’s jumper made it a 2-0 contest 44 seconds into regulation, but the Ironladies (9-14) answered with a dozen consecutive points en route to building a 15-4 first quarter advantage.
JHS led 17-6 and 20-9 in the early part of the second canto, but the Maroon and Gold closed the final 4:22 of the half on a small 7-4 run to pull within 24-16 at the break.
Deb Hill’s basket at the 5:11 mark of the third capped a 5-2 run that again gave Jackson a 29-18 edge, but Madison Fields hit a pair of free throws with 1:43 left to cap a 7-2 surge that resulted in a 31-25 contest.
The Red and White, however, closed the stanza with a 4-1 spurt that led to a 35-26 cushion headed into the finale.
Hill gave Jackson its final double-digit lead at 37-26 with a basket 48 seconds into the fourth, but the Ironladies didn’t score another field goal over the next 7:10 of the game. JHS also committed five of its 11 turnovers down the stretch, while Meigs didn’t have a single turnover in the fourth.
The Lady Marauders made an 11-1 charge over the next four-plus minutes as Madison Hendricks capped things by sliding through three JHS defenders for a layup, cutting the MHS deficit down to a single point at 38-37 with 2:40 remaining.
Rebekah Green hit two free throws just eight seconds later for a three-point lead, but Devin Humphrey hit a baseline jumper with 2:16 left to again make it a one-point game.
After a minute of scoreless play, the Lady Marauders finally completed their comeback bid as Marissa Noble drilled a trifecta with 59 seconds left that gave the hosts a 42-40 lead.
Both teams missed a pair of free throws over the next 30 seconds, and Meigs retained possession out of a timeout with 16.1 seconds left.
Betzing received the inbounds pass and was fouled, then the sophomore calmly netted both free throw attempts while giving Meigs its largest lead of the night at 44-40 with 14.7 seconds left.
Green scored the final basket of the game on an uncontested layup just before the buzzer, ending Jackson’s woeful 2-of-7 shooting effort down the stretch.
It was the first career postseason win for MHS coach Jarrod Kasun, who acknowledged that the winning formula was not exactly what he had in mind at the start. Nonetheless, the first-year mentor was still more than happy to accept the final outcome as it was.
“It’s not about how you get there, but it’s all about getting that win at the end of the night. We always tell our kids that if you can hang around for long enough when things aren’t going well, you can still make a run and have things work out,” Kasun said. “We had a lot of good looks rattle in and out in the first half when things weren’t going well for us, but we started finding a rhythm and the shots started falling.
“I’m proud of the girls and the resiliency they showed tonight, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We are all very excited about having another game to play in.”
The Lady Marauders will now face top-seeded Sheridan (19-4) in the sectional final at 1 p.m. Saturday in Jim Myers Gymnasium on the campus of Logan High School.
It’s the third time in four years that Meigs has won a postseason game to get to the sectional final, but it’s also the first win in the Division II tournament for the program since the early portion of this decade.
The Lady Marauders haven’t won a sectional title in 17 years, and the quest to end that streak won’t be an easy task. Kasun, however, is excited that his young troops have the opportunity.
“Honestly, this win was something that these kids needed. We haven’t won a sectional title since 2000 and there aren’t too many postseason wins for this program since that season, so it really serves as a boost for what we are trying to do in raising the bar for expectations,” Kasun said. “I’m not saying that we are guaranteeing a win in the sectional final this weekend against a pretty good Sheridan team, but it is good for our kids to at least be in this situation. They’ve earned it.”
Meigs outrebounded JHS by a 30-27 overall margin, including a 12-9 edge on the offensive glass. The hosts also committed only one of their six total turnovers in the second half.
The Lady Marauders connected on 15-of-48 field goal attempts for 31 percent, including a 4-of-23 effort from behind the arc. MHS was also 9-of-38 from the field through three quarters before going hitting 6-of-10 shots in the finale.
Betzing led the Maroon and Gold with 20 points, followed by Noble with seven points and Hendricks with six markers. Humphreys and Madison Fields were next with four points apiece, while Alli Hatfield completed the winning tally with three markers.
The Lady Marauders were 10-of-20 at the free throw line for 50 percent. Betzing, Hendricks, Humphreys, Hatfield and Courtney Jones also grabbed four rebounds each for the victors.
The Ironladies netted 15-of-44 shot attempts for 34 percent, including a 5-of-21 effort from three-point territory for 24 percent. The guests were also 10-of-18 at the charity stripe for 56 percent.
Green paced Jackson with a game-high 22 points, followed by Hill with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Green also hauled in seven caroms in the setback.
Emily Brown was next with six points, while Amelia Davis and Ally Irwin respectively rounded things out with three points and two points.
Jackson won the regular season contest between these two programs by a 48-43 margin back on January 19 at Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium in Rocksprings.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.