ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — The effort was clearly there. The desired result, however, was not.
The Meigs boys basketball team came up short on a game-tying attempt with 15 seconds left in regulation, and visiting Alexander converted four free throws over the final dozen seconds to secure a 57-50 decision in a Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division contest at Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium in Meigs County.
The Marauders (7-12, 4-7 TVC Ohio) had their season-best three-game winning streak come to an end as the hosts built a 26-25 halftime advantage, but the Spartans (10-7, 7-3) rallied with a 16-10 third quarter run that ultimately provided a permanent lead over the final 12:28 of regulation.
Leading 41-36 headed into the finale, AHS opened the fourth period with an 11-7 run that gave the guests their largest lead of the night at 52-43 with 2:48 remaining.
The Maroon and Gold, however, answered with a 7-1 surge and cut the deficit down to a single possession (53-50) with 20 seconds left.
Alexander followed with a turnover on its ensuing possession, but Meigs couldn’t capitalize after coming up empty on its game-tying attempt. Stone Markins-Erwin and Luke Kish both converted a pair of free throws for the Red and Black over the final 12 seconds, allowing the guests to sneak away with the seven-point outcome.
The Spartans also claimed a season sweep of MHS after posting a 58-47 win at The Alley back on Jan. 5 in Athens County.
Despite being outmanned by a deeper roster and taller players, the Marauders were able to stay in the thick of things because of their relentless efforts on both ends of the floor. In the end, however, the hosts simply didn’t have enough left in the tank to get over the final hurdle.
Afterwards, MHS coach Ed Fry was pleased with the overall performance of his troops — but he also noted that the Spartans did just enough to come away with the victory.
“Alexander has a very good basketball team, but there were points in time tonight when we were not in control of the tempo — particularly in that third quarter,” Fry said. “We are much better team when we control the flow of the game, and I thought we did that for a better portion of the night.
“They did a good job of contesting our three-point shooting and we started settling for threes a little too soon down the stretch. We needed to drive, get to the basket and maybe draw some foul shots so we could score without the clock running being down late, but you also have to give Alexander a lot of credit. It was a good effort, but it just wasn’t enough.”
Both teams traded leads before ending up tied at eight midway through the opening frame, but Meigs answered with six straight points as part of a 10-7 run to close the canto — giving the hosts an 18-15 edge.
The Marauders never trailed in the second canto, but the guests still closed the gap with a 10-8 spurt that made it a 26-25 contest at the break.
Alexander made 6-of-11 shot attempts during the third frame, which included a small 8-7 run that tied things up at 33-all with 4:52 remaining. Kish gave AHS a permanent lead with a basket at the 4:28 mark, sparking an 8-3 run that gave the guests a 41-36 edge headed into the finale.
Meigs was never closer than three points down the stretch, which occurred on four different occasions — including twice in the final minute of play.
The Spartans outrebounded the hosts by a 38-33 overall margin, including a 13-10 edge on the offensive glass. The guests also committed only six of the 17 turnovers in the contest.
The Marauders made 16-of-48 field goal attempts for 33 percent, but the hosts went 0-for-9 from three-point range and were also 18-of-25 at the free throw line for 72 percent.
Weston Baer paced Meigs with a game-high effort of 22 points, followed by Zach Bartrum with 20 points and Bobby Musser with four markers. Wyatt Hoover and Jake Roush completed the scoring with two points apiece.
Baer, Bartrum and Musser each hauled in seven rebounds, while Hoover and Nick Lilly grabbed five caroms apiece.
Alexander went 20-of-55 from the field for 36 percent, including a 5-of-19 effort from behind the arc for 26 percent. The guests were also 12-of-19 at the charity stripe for 63 percent.
Kish and Ryan Davidson led AHS with 13 points apiece, followed by Markins-Erwin with nine points. Dylan Mecum and Caleb Terry were next with six points each, with J.K. Kearns and Kam Riley respectively adding five and four markers.
Matt Brown completed the winning tally with one point. Terry led the guests with eight rebounds, followed by Kish and Markins-Erwin with seven boards apiece.
Meigs returns to action Saturday when it hosts Eastern in a non-conference matchup of Meigs County programs at 7 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.