ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — On stretch can change the course of an entire ball game.
The Eastern girls basketball team held non-conference host Meigs scoreless for over five minutes in the second half, on Monday night in Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium, as the Lady Eagles rallied back to claim the 50-43 victory.
After a pair of early lead changes, Eastern (12-2) opened a 16-12 lead by the end of the opening period. The Lady Eagles were held to just five points in the second quarter, however, as Meigs (6-6) stormed back to take the 26-21 halftime lead.
The Lady Eagles began the second half with a 10-3 run, giving the Green, White and Gold a 31-29 lead. Meigs regained the lead, at 36-33, with 45 seconds left in the third, but the Lady Marauders didn’t score again until the 3:08 mark of the fourth.
The Lady Eagles scored two points in the final 45 seconds of the third quarter and added five points in the first four minutes of the fourth, giving the guests a 40-35 advantage.
MHS sophomore Kassidy Betzing broke the cold spell with a two-pointer, cutting the Lady Marauder deficit to three points with 3:08 left. However, Eastern scored the next eight points and led 48-37, with 57 seconds remaining.
After a MHS free throw, EHS extended the lead to 12 points, with 42 seconds left. Meigs scored the final five points of the game, falling by a 50-43 count.
“We were just kind of floating through the ball game,” said first-year EHS head coach Jacob Parker. “In the fourth quarter, Meigs called a time out and I just told the girls ‘hey, we have five minutes of basketball left, let’s just absolutely play ball.’ It fired them up, maybe I should have done that a little earlier. That Meigs team is very good, they can shoot the heck out of the basketball. We lost them a couple of times, but the girls came through and played hard.”
Both teams attempted 46 field goals in the game, with Eastern making 16 for 34.8 percent and Meigs making 17 for 37 percent. EHS was 5-of-19 (26.3 percent) from three-point range and 13-of-19 (68.4 percent) from the free throw line, while the Lady Marauders were 7-of-21 (33.3 percent) from beyond the arc and 2-of-4 (50 percent) from the charity stripe. Before the fourth quarter, Meigs was shooting 42.9 percent from the field.
“We’ve put stretches together where we’ve played pretty well,” said first-year MHS head coach Jarrod Kasun. “That first half was probably the best half of basketball that we’ve played. Unfortunately, we’ve played too many times where we have four-or-five minute stretches where we just go off the cliff. Give credit to Eastern, I thought they played very well. They had a lot of energy, we were hoping to wear them down.”
Along with the dip shooting, Meigs struggled to hold on to the ball after the halftime break. The Lady Marauders had just five turnovers in the first half, but committed five in each of the final two quarters. Eastern committed just seven turnovers in the contest.
“Our goal tonight was to limit the turnovers,” Coach Parker said. “That meant we were running our offenses, making the right passes and not letting the defense dictate our offense. If we can do that as a team, we’re going to set ourselves in a lot better position down the road. I am very, very proud of the girls.”
Both teams finished with 26 rebounds, with the Lady Eagles winning the offensive glass by a 6-to-5 edge. Meigs held a 14-to-12 assists advantage, but Eastern claimed all six of the game’s steals.
The Lady Eagles had four players reach double-figures in scoring, led by sophomore Becca Pullins with 12 points. Laura Pullins, Elizabeth Collins and Jess Parker each scored 10 points, Alyson Bailey added six, while Kelsey Casto finished with two markers.
Laura Pullins pulled in a team-best 10 rebounds, followed by Collins with eight. Bailey dished out five assists for EHS, while Becca Pullins added three. Becca Pullins also led the EHS defense with three steals, followed by Collins with two.
The Maroon and Gold were led by Betzing with 15 points, followed by Madison Fields with 10 and Devin Humphreys with nine. Marissa Noble scored five points for the hosts, while Danielle Morris and Alli Hatfield each had two points in the setback.
Betzing and Humphreys led Meigs on the glass with six rebounds apiece, while Noble and Betzing led the Lady Marauders with five and four assists respectively.
“We gave a good effort here, we have to keep building of of this,” Coach Kasun said. “It’s not one quarter, or one game, we just have to keep going. I liked our effort in the first half, so hopefully we can build off of that and comeback Thursday with a victory.”
Meigs continues its non-league slate on Thursday, when Jackson visits Rocksprings.
Eastern resumes Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division play on Thursday, at Federal Hocking.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.