ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — The difference six weeks can make.
The Meigs girls basketball team made a 45-point swing of things in its rematch with visiting River Valley Monday night following a 56-40 victory in a Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division matchup at Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium in Meigs County.
The Lady Marauders (8-7, 3-4 TVC Ohio) picked up their fourth straight win while also avenging a 57-28 setback to the Lady Raiders (7-7, 3-4) back on December 3 in Bidwell. Meigs has also won seven of its last eight outings, while RVHS has now dropped its last five overall decisions after starting the year 5-0.
Both teams held advantages in each of the first three quarters, with River Valley taking its final lead of the game at 26-25 following a basket by Shelby Brown at the 7:34 mark of the third quarter. Madison Fields, however, capped a 9-0 run over the next 2:18 with a rare four-point play — giving the hosts a 34-26 cushion with 5:16 remaining.
The Silver and Black rallied back to within 37-33 following a bucket by Leia Moore with 3:05 left, but the guests went scoreless over the next five-plus minutes. Meigs answered by closing the third period on a 5-0 run for a 42-33 edge, then started the fourth with a 6-0 surge in the opening two minutes for a sizable 48-33 lead.
RVHS was never closer than 13 points the rest of the way, and the Maroon and Gold led by as many as 21 points (56-35) with 4:30 left in regulation before wrapping up the 16-point triumph.
The Lady Marauders had 10 different players reach the scoring column and forced 19 turnovers overall, with 14 of those takeaways coming in the first half. The hosts also hit of five of their seven trifectas after the intermission, with four of those three-pointers coming during a 3:13 span of the third canto.
That stretch, combined with a 5-of-22 effort from the field in the second half, ultimately proved to be too much for RVHS to overcome.
“Our defense wasn’t what we needed it to be tonight and we were extremely tentative against the press,” River Valley coach Sarah Evans-Moore said afterwards. “We just didn’t show a great deal of energy early on against a team that we knew was playing well. Meigs made some shots when they needed to and I give them credit for that.”
For first-year Meigs coach Scott Cleland, Monday night’s victory was more about his troops seeing the progress they’ve made from the start of the year. And, as he is hoping, the progress they can continue to make.
“This is the most excited that I’ve seen these girls all year. They are having fun as a group and playing really good defense right now, and the effort is producing good results,” Cleland said. “We’re having success and the girls are like sponges, just wanting to take in everything we teach them in practice. The fun part, right now, is seeing them execute it perfectly on the floor. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.”
There were four ties and seven lead changes in the contest, with River Valley holding the largest first half lead after jumping out to a 5-0 cushion. Meigs answered with a 16-8 run over the final 5:49 of the first to secure a 16-13 edge after eight minutes.
The Lady Raiders led 20-16 with 6:48 left following a free throw by Beth Gillman, but Breanna Colburn capped a 9-2 MHS run with a free throw at the 2:25 mark for a 25-22 lead. Jaden Neal hit a basket 13 seconds later to make it a slim 25-24 contest headed into the break.
The hosts connected on 17-of-53 field goal attempts for 32 percent, including a 7-of-18 effort from behind the arc for 39 percent. Meigs committed 14 turnovers and also went 15-of-23 at the free throw line for 65 percent.
Kassidy Betzing paced Meigs with 17 points, followed by Fields with 14 points and Devin Humphreys with nine markers. Courtney Jones, Madison Hendricks and Alli Hatfield also chipped in three points apiece to the winning cause.
Haiden English, Halley Barnes and Danielle Morris were next with two markers each, while Colburn rounded out the scoring with one point. Humphreys and Hatfield both hauled in seven rebounds for the hosts.
The Lady Raiders netted 13-of-49 field goal attempts for 27 percent, including a 4-of-15 effort from three-point territory for 27 percent. The guests posted a slim 36-33 edge in rebounds and also went 10-of-17 at the charity stripe for 59 percent.
Leia Moore paced RVHS with a double-double effort of 17 points and 11 rebounds, followed by Brown and Erin Jackson with six markers each. Courtney Smith also added four points in the setback.
Neal, Carly Gilmore and Tianna Qualls contributed two points apiece, while Gillman rounded out the River Valley scoring with one marker. Brown also hauled in eight caroms in the setback.
Both teams return to TVC Ohio action Thursday as RVHS hosts Wellston and Meigs travels to Alexander. Both contests will start at 6 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.