LOGAN, Ohio — For the second consecutive year, the Meigs Marauders made the favored Fairfield Union Falcons work.
Unfortunately for the Marauders, for the second consecutive year, the Falcons found a way to capture Saturday’s Division II boys basketball sectional championship at Logan.
This time, the Falcons stymied the Marauders to only five third-quarter points — en route to earning a 62-53 victory inside Logan High School’s Jim Myers Gymnasium.
Meigs managed to rally from an 11-5 first-period deficit, going on a 16-5 run to lead 21-16 midway through the second stanza.
But the Falcons, as part of six second-quarter lead changes, doubled up the Marauders 12-6 in the final 3:54 of the canto — to take a slim 28-27 advantage into halftime.
Fairfield Union — which led for the final 16 minutes and 52 seconds — then erupted in the third frame, outscoring Meigs 17-5 to take a 45-32 lead entering the fourth.
In fact, the Marauders’ only points in the period came on a pair of Zach Bartrum free throws — followed by a field goal and free throw by Christian Mattox.
With Mattox’s field goal, only a minute and 25 seconds into the quarter, the Marauders made it a 33-31 deficit —but got no closer the rest of the way.
His foul shot trimmed the Meigs deficit to 38-32 with 3:51 left in the period, but the Falcons tallied nine unanswered over the next four minutes and 21 seconds — staking their largest advantage of the game (47-32).
The Marauders got to within single digits five times in the fourth quarter (51-42, 53-44, 55-46, 60-51 and 62-53), and got as close as eight (61-53) points with only 28 seconds to play.
The Falcons — which scored 17 points in each of the final three quarters — finished the final eight minutes with four field goals, and knocked down 9-of-13 free throws to officially knock out the Marauders.
“We had to do a few things coming into this game. We needed to shoot the ball well, but it took us a while, and I’m not sure if we actually ever did. And we had to get to the foul line. We didn’t get there as much as we wanted to. It came late, but it was too late. Consequently, we didn’t open up our three-point shooters,” said Meigs coach Ed Fry. “But our kids kept battling and we scrapped and hung tough. That’s (Fairfield Union) a very very good team. Our kids were outsized. They have some beasts out there. We worked all week on getting two guys on the big boy (Colin Woodside) every time a shot went up. We did that pretty well for most of the game, but they are just a real good basketball team.”
Real good is right.
With the win, in addition to advancing to the Division II district tournament, the Falcons raised their stellar record to 21-2.
The loss ends Meigs’ season at 14-9, as the Marauders were the seventh seed in the Logan sectional.
Last season, the Marauders fell to the top-seeded Falcons for the sectional championship, but managed 18 victories —the most for the program since the 1986-87 campaign.
Saturday’s opening two quarters in each half proved pivotal, as Meigs made just 3-of-9 field-goal attempts in the first period —followed by a worse 1-of-8 and five turnovers in the third.
For the game, while Meigs shot a decent 41-percent (19-of-46), the Marauders made just three of 14 three-point attempts (21-percent).
Senior shooters Luke Musser, who did not score, and Dillon Mahr made just 1-of-15 field-goal attempts between them —as Mahr made a fourth-quarter basket and a first-frame free throw.
Meigs also attempted as many foul shots (15) as the Falcons made, and committed 13 turnovers while fouling 19 times.
Evan Conley canned six field goals and 5-of-5 second-half free throws to pace Fairfield Union, as his pair of second-quarter three-pointers gave the Falcons a pair of one-point leads (13-12 and 24-23).
Colin Woodside, the Falcons’ top player who stands six-foot, six-inches tall and weighs 265 pounds, tossed in 14 points on five field goals and 4-of-7 fourth-quarter free throws.
Woodside also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, and helped get Meigs center Jared Kennedy in foul trouble.
Kennedy was whistled for his fourth personal with 2:39 remaining in the third quarter — and with the Marauders trailing 40-32.
“In the third quarter, JK (Jared Kennedy) picked up his fourth foul and we had to have him on the court,” said Fry.
He then fouled out with 3:17 left to play — and with the Falcons ahead 51-42.
He finished with six rebounds and a pair of baskets.
Lucas Thompson, on two deuces, two treys and 2-of-4 foul shots, tacked on a dozen points —while Brad Miller and Jack Wolshire scored seven points apiece.
Wolshire drained a third-quarter triple and 4-of-4 second-stanza free throws, while Miller made a pair of twos and a three.
Hayden Price popped a three-ball to open the scoring — exactly a minute and three seconds into the game.
Mattox poured in 20 points to pace the Marauders and all scorers, hitting eight total field goals and 3-of-4 free throws.
Bartrum bagged five field goals and 8-of-8 second-half free throws towards 18 points, while Weston Baer’s two threes and a steal and layup landed Meigs a 17-13 lead at the 5:45 mark of the second.
Saturday’s sectional final marked the final tilt for five Marauder seniors: Kennedy, Musser, Mahr, T.J. Williams and Garrett Buckley.
“We came in three years ago with Luke (Musser), Jared (Kennedy), Dillon (Mahr) and T.J. (Williams) and Garrett (Buckley) joined us this year after I recruited him for two years to come out. What these kids have done…you can have a winning team anytime. But we’re out to establish a winning culture. That’s what these guys helped to create,” said Fry. “We stress things like trust, commitment, teamwork, tenacity and discipline. These guys helped to establish that in our program the last three years. These seniors are going to be sorely missed.”
Indeed, the Marauder seniors helped reverse an 0-for-4 start to the season to a 14-5 finish — and an unlikely King of the Smokies Christmas Classic championship in Tennessee.
“We really grew as a team after those first four games. Our experience down in Tennessee, it showed our boys we could play with anybody. We came in today, we weren’t intimated and we just went at it,” said Fry. “Our players now, we believe we can beat anybody at any time. So we’ve come a long way.”
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106