TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — As close as it gets.
The Eastern girls basketball team defended ‘The Nest’ on Wednesday night, defeating Meigs by a 71-70 count in non-conference play.
The Lady Marauders (8-8) lead initially and pushed their advantage to as high as eight points, at 11-3, 3:30 into play. Eastern (9-5) scored the next nine points, however, and took its first lead with 1:24 left in the first quarter.
Meigs briefly regained the advantage at 13-12, but the Lady Eagles were ahead 17-15 by the time the first quarter concluded.
The hosts scored the first nine points of the second quarter, before Meigs answered with a 6-to-2 run to trim its deficit to 28-21 with 4:00 left in the period. Eastern outscored the Maroon and Gold 10-to-6 over the remainder of the half and headed into the break with a 38-27 edge.
The EHS lead was at a game-high 13 points three separate times in the early part of the third quarter, but Meigs roared back to take a 49-48 lead with 1:20 left in the stanza.
EHS regained the lead at 51-49, but surrendered five unanswered points, giving the guests a 54-51 edge with eight minutes to play.
The Lady Eagles took the lead back, at 58-56, with 4:27 left in the game, and Meigs never regained the advantage. The Maroon and Gold tied the game at 58 and 61, but a 10-to-3 EHS run gave the Lady Eagles a 71-64 edge with 1:19 to go.
The Lady Marauders hit a three-pointer with 47 seconds left and another triple with five seconds to play, but couldn’t get another shot off, as EHS claimed the 71-70 win.
“A win is a win,” EHS head coach Jacob Parker said. “When you put 71 points on the board, you’re doing something right. We are really talking about consistency with this group, and for three quarters tonight we had consistency. The third quarter, we let slip away a little bit, and that’s when a good shooting team made their run.”
The Lady Eagles shot 23-of-44 (52.3 percent) from the field, including 6-of-15 (40 percent) from beyond the arc. Meigs connected on 26-of-62 (41.9 percent) field goal tries, including 12-of-27 (44.4 percent) three-point tries. From the free throw line, EHS shot 19-of-37 (51.4 percent) and MHS shot 6-of-9 (66.7 percent).
“They really killed us on the boards today,” MHS head coach Jarrod Kasun said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well, in the first half we played with no energy what so ever. Eastern really came out fired up, give them all the credit for the first half. In the second half we played with more energy, we made some shots and we hustled. We have to hustle and we have to play with effort.”
The Lady Eagles outrebounded Meigs by a 37-to-24 tally, including 11-to-10 on the offensive glass.
“Offensive rebounding is a very nice category to win, sometimes you get the extra points, sometimes you extend a possession,” Coach Parker said. “But defensive rebounding is one thing that we’re stressing so much, because we work so hard on defense to force the other team to take a shot that they don’t want to.”
Eastern also claimed a narrow 18-to-17 edge in assists, while the Lady Marauders earned advantages of 9-to-5 in steals and 3-to-2 in blocked shots.
After turning the ball over just six times in the opening half, Eastern gave the ball away 13 times in the second half. In total, the Lady Marauders turned the ball over 12 times, seven of which came in the second half.
“We pressured them a little bit more,” Kasun said of Meigs’ second half adjustments. “We got some hand-check calls against us in the first half that really slowed the tempo down, which wasn’t in our favor. The first half and the second half were just completely night and day. If we play like we did in the second half for the rest of the season, I’ll be happy. If we play like we did in the first half for the rest of the season, I’ll probably be bald by the end of the year.”
The Lady Eagles were led by senior Elizabeth Collins, who posted a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds. Alyson Bailey hit a team-best three trifectas and finished with 19 points, while Madison Williams had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, to go with a game-high seven assists.
EHS junior Jess Parker scored 10 points, eight of which came from the free throw line. Kelsey Casto contributed four points to the winning cause, while Kaitlyn Hawk chipped in with three points.
“These are games that are so fun,” Coach Parker said. “When they play like that, they’re fun to watch. We have to find a way to not let one thing influence our intensity, we have to bring it night in and night out. We can learn so much from this game. We put 71 points on the board and I would say that 68 of them came from running the offense.”
The Lady Eagle defense was led by Bailey with three steals, followed by Collins with two blocks and one steal.
The MHS offense was led by Madison Hendricks and Kassidy Betzing with 18 points apiece, with Hendricks making a trio of three-pointers and Betzing adding two triples.
Becca Pullins scored 14 points and dished out a team-best six assists, while Devin Humphreys added 10 points to the MHS total. Marissa Noble and Madison Fields rounded out the scoring column for the guests with five points apiece.
“Our girls are playing better,” Kasun said. “We had a senior step, Madison Hendricks just played great today and that’s what we expect from everybody. We have to learn to convert shots, we can’t keep shooting 30-or-35 percent from the field and expect to win, particularly when we’re getting out rebounded like we did.”
Betzing led the Lady Marauder defense with seven steals, while Humphreys blocked three shots.
This is the lone scheduled meeting between these teams this season.
After Eastern hosts Belpre on Thursday, the Lady Eagles will visit Miller on Saturday. After Meigs travels to River Valley on Thursday, the Lady Marauders will be back in action on Monday at Vinton County.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.