LOGAN, Ohio — Luke Musser gave it a go.
The Meigs Marauders made the Fairfield Union Falcons work for it.
But by piercing — inside and out — the Marauders’ manifest 1-3-1 zone defense Saturday night, the top-seeded Falcons put an official end to the best boys basketball season at Meigs since 1986-87.
Bolstered by draining eight three-pointers, and by dominating in rebounding, Fairfield Union ended the Marauders’ season with a 59-47 victory in the Division II sectional championship game inside Jim Myers Gymnasium in Logan.
Meigs, the fourth-seeded squad in the Logan sectional, made a game of it against Fairfield Union for three quarters.
Minus Musser at full strength after suffering an ankle injury in the final minutes of its sectional semifinal win over Logan Elm, Meigs only trailed 13-11 after the opening quarter — and 27-26 at halftime.
In fact, Kaileb Sheets’ three-point shot to beat the third-period buzzer had Meigs right there — with only a 41-37 deficit entering the final frame.
But by outscoring the Marauders 18-10 in the fourth quarter, the Falcons finished off Meigs —and advanced to this Friday night’s Division II district semifinals at the Ohio University Convocation Center.
The Falcons improved to 20-4, while Meigs —winning 18 games in a single season for the first time in three decades — bowed out at an impressive 18-5.
The Marauders made their 1-3-1 half-court zone defense their staple this season, but the Falcons found ways to solve it Saturday night.
Fairfield Union bagged eight three-pointers, but by an even dozen, decimated the smaller Marauders on the boards.
The Falcons finished with 39 rebounds to Meigs’ 27, as Fairfield Union’s big man —sophomore center Colin Woodside — —grabbed a game-high 17.
He also tied teammate Thomas Green for a team-high 17 points, as Green canned four threes — with Woodside often cleaning up any of the 23 long-range attempts the Falcons missed.
The matchup wasn’t exactly in the Marauders’ favor.
“We knew that (rebounding disadvantage) going in, so it becomes even more important what we did when we had the ball,” said Meigs coach Ed Fry. “They are getting two or three shots every time down the floor to our one. Guess what happens when that happens.”
While Fairfield Union only shot 26-percent (8-of-31) from beyond the arc, it got several second —or even third —chances on offensive possessions.
Meigs made only 4-of-18 from three, and multiple times were limited to a single shot attempt.
“We choose some bad shots at times, a couple or three in a row there in one stretch in the second half. I thought when we did run our stuff, we did a good job of that,” said Fry. “But when we came down and just tried to play, we didn’t do well.”
Fry felt the game got away from the Marauders at the outset of both the third and fourth quarters.
The Falcons scored a pair of baskets, including the second off a Meigs turnover, in a span of 40 seconds to lead 31-26.
The Marauders maintained a three-to-five point deficit for the next two minutes and 50 seconds, but an 8-0 Falcon run over the next three minutes gave Fairfield Union its largest lead at that point (1:30 left in third quarter) at 41-30.
A pair of Sheets threes, sandwiched around a Colton Lilly free throw, highlighted seven straight Marauder markers to get back to within four (41-37) entering the fourth.
But another five Falcon points to open the period once again opened up their lead to nine with 6:46 remaining.
A Christian Mattox field goal and Jared Kennedy tip-in once again got Meigs to within five (46-41), but the Marauders missed their next three shots, while Lucas Thompson tallied back-to-back Falcon field goals exactly 55 seconds apart.
“The way we started both the third and fourth quarters was key,” said Fry. “We didn’t play either one very well and that put us in a hole the entire quarter.”
Lilly scored to make it 50-43, but the Marauders didn’t get any closer the rest of the way —with Fairfield Union amassing 9-of-13 free throws in the final 1:57.
Green finished with five field goals and 3-of-4 free throws, with three of his four treys coming in the second half.
Woodside was 5-of-8 at the line with six field goals, while Thompson and Hayden Price popped two first-half trifectas apiece.
Green’s assist to Woodside for an old-fashioned three-point play with 6:19 left in the second stanza gave Fairfield Union a 17-15 lead —on the seventh and final lead change of the night.
Thompson, like Green, tacked on five field goals and 3-of-4 foul shots —and collared eight rebounds.
Price finished with eight points on three field goals, while Matt Smith scored a second-period bucket and dished out four assists.
Sheets sank all four of the Marauders’ triples, part of seven total field goals and 2-of-4 free throws for a game-high 20 points.
Lilly, on six field goals, chipped in 13, while Mattox —on four field goals and 2-of-2 free throws —tallied 10.
Kennedy also made a first-quarter field goal, as Lilly led in rebounds with eight while Kennedy and Sheets secured six apiece.
Musser, who hit five key threes in the Marauders’ sectional semifinal win, was limited in his mobility and held scoreless.
“Luke was trying to play. He had that ankle taped up and was trying to play with a brace on it. But that caused him to be not as effective tonight,” said Fry. “But he’s a gutty kid and he wanted to play and we thought he could. We tried. But all of our kids left everything they had out on the floor tonight. It’s one thing if you don’t give effort and lose, but these kids played as hard as they could play and I’m proud of them for that.”
The Marauders’ largest leads were 5-0 and 7-2, but back-to-back treys off the wing by Thompson and Price put the Falcons in front —where they remained for the game’s final 22 minutes and 19 seconds.
Fairfield Union led by 11 points three times in the final 1:02 —until the 59-47 final score was its largest.
Fry said his Marauders, which graduate seniors Lilly, Sheets, Jaxon Meadows, Tyler Fields and Jake Korn, can look back on a historic season with fond memories.
“I didn’t know it had been that long (1986-87) since we had won that many (18),” said the third-year MHS coach. “It was a very good season and I’m very proud of our seniors and all of our kids.”
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106
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