ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — It’s not about style of the points, only having more of them at the end of the night.
Both teams showed some season-opening rust, but a 13-1 surge over the final three minutes of the first half ultimately allowed the Meigs girls basketball team to cruise on to a 49-34 victory over visiting Southern in a non-conference matchup of Meigs County programs at Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium.
The host Lady Marauders (1-0) never trailed in the contest, despite only netting four of their first 21 field goal attempts in the opening half. MHS also hit its first three shots while establishing a 6-0 cushion less than the three minutes into regulation.
The Lady Tornadoes (0-1), on the other hand, started the game with seven consecutive misses and went just 3-of-21 from the field in the opening 16 minutes — yet somehow found themselves tied at 11-all with 5:08 left in the half.
Meigs, however, turned up its defensive intensity to end the second canto after forcing eight consecutive misses while going on a 13-1 run, allowing the hosts to turn a nip-and-tuck contest into a comfortable 25-12 cushion at the break.
SHS — which committed seven turnovers during that second quarter lull — managed to whittle the lead down to two possessions (30-24) with just under four minutes left in the third canto, but 17 second half turnovers ultimately caught up to the Purple and Gold down the stretch.
The Lady Marauders hit 10-of-21 shot attempts in the second half and gradually extended their lead out to as many as 18 points (45-27) with 2:41 left in regulation before wrapping up the 15-point triumph.
The difference in the game came down to guard play as the Meigs backcourt outscored the Southern guards by a 34-11 overall margin. SHS also finished the night with 27 turnovers, compared to 16 by the hosts.
Another big key for Meigs was holding SHS senior Faith Teaford scoreless in the first half, although the All-Ohio post player did finish the night with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
First-year MHS coach Jarrod Kasun acknowledged afterwards that his entire roster played a big role in landing him his first varsity triumph, which led to a proud smile across his face.
He was also quick to note that there are plenty of things to work on moving forward.
“I thought our effort level was very good in the first half. We didn’t shoot the ball very well early on, but then it kind of flipped there right before halftime and we were able to do some positive things,” Kasun said. “Our girls did a good job of focusing on Faith on the defensive end and our guards, I thought, started wearing them down there towards the end.
“It wasn’t perfect by any stretch and we have lots of room for improvement, but it was a collective effort and a it was a win. We’ll take 21 more of those, no matter how ugly they end up looking.”
When things appeared at there worst, sophomore guard Kassidy Betzing provided some real life into the Meigs attack.
Betzing ended an 0-for-10 start to the second quarter by drilling a short jumper at the 2:59 mark, giving the hosts a 13-11 edge. That basket led to a permanent lead and also sparked the 13-1 run before halftime — with Betzing providing seven of those 13 markers.
Southern managed to make a 12-5 run out of the second half blocks to close to within 30-24, but Betzing scored four points as part of an 8-0 run to close the third canto for a 38-24 advantage. Southern was never closer the rest of the way.
SHS coach Kent Wolfe knew, coming in, that Betzing was going to be the best guard on the floor, and trying to contain her with a backcourt of mostly newcomers to the varsity roster wasn’t going to be the easiest of tasks.
“We had two opportunities to gain some real momentum. The first was when we were tied just before halftime and the second was when we cut it down to six midway in the third,” Wolfe said. “You just cannot let your opponent’s best player take over a game in a big moment … and Kassidy just took control. Sometimes you need to find a way to make somebody else beat you, and we couldn’t do that.
“I thought the girls played well early and gave a good overall effort, but a little bit of our inexperience showed itself. We have quite a few games to play in the upcoming weeks, so we’ll just keep working to improve ourselves.”
The Lady Marauders connected on 19-of-48 field goal attempts for 40 percent, including a 3-of-11 effort from behind the arc for 27 percent. The hosts hauled in 23 rebounds (six offensive) and went 8-of-14 at the free throw line for 57 percent.
Betzing led MHS with a game-high 15 points and Marissa Noble was next with seven points, while Madison Fields and Devin Humphreys each contributed six markers. Alli Hatfield also chipped in five points.
Madison Hendricks and Dani Morris were next with four points apiece, with Jacynda Glover rounding things out with two points.
Humphreys led the Lady Marauders with six rebounds and Betzing was next with five caroms.
The Lady Tornadoes netted 10-of-39 field goal attempts for 26 percent, including a 2-of-8 effort from three-point range for 25 percent. The guests collected 34 total rebounds (10 offensive) and went 12-of-18 at the charity stripe for 67 percent.
Sierra Cleland followed Teaford with five points and 11 rebounds, while Josie Cundiff also chipped in five markers.
Phoenix Cleland and Macie Michael were next with three points apiece. Ashley Acree and Lauren Lavender rounded out the SHS tally with two points and one point, respectively.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.
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