JACKSON, Ohio — Better to have a bruised body than a bruised ego.
It was rough and it was tough, but the Meigs boys basketball team came up with just enough answers in the overtime session Monday night to claim a hard-fought 48-43 victory over ninth-seeded South Point in a Division III sectional semifinal contest at Jackson High School.
The eighth-seeded Marauders (13-10) hit nine of their first 10 shots of the game while building their largest lead of the night at 19-9 with a minute left in the first, but the Pointers (8-15) turned up their defensive effort and held the hosts to just nine made field goals the rest of the way — all while gradually whittling away at that early deficit.
The Blue and Gold picked up a quick four points to end the opening canto down 19-13, then made a 6-2 run over the first three minutes of the second frame to close to within 21-19.
The Maroon and Gold, however, made an 11-4 surge over the final 4:26 of the first half, allowing Meigs to turn a slim one possession edge into a more-comforting 32-23 cushion at the intermission.
Austin Webb capped a quick 7-0 run with an old-fashioned 3-point play at the 5:39 mark of the third, which allowed SPHS to close the gap down to 32-30.
The Pointers then followed with a 5-2 spurt that ultimately led to their only advantage of the night after Marcus Malone netted a bucket at the 2:01 mark, making it a 35-34 contest.
Cole Betzing answered with an offensive putback with just five seconds left in the canto, giving Meigs the lead back at 36-35.
MHS coach Jeremy Hill received a technical foul shortly after the Betzing bucket went in, but the Pointers missed both free throw attempts with 2.1 seconds remaining — giving the Maroon and Gold a one-point edge headed into the finale.
The game ended up tied at 38-all and again at 41-all with 58 seconds left, then Meigs turned the ball over with 11.9 seconds showing — forcing South Point to have to go the length of the floor for the potential game-winner.
The Pointers, however, turned the ball over less than a second later while trying to inbound the ball against full-court pressure — giving Meigs possession underneath its own basket with 10.6 seconds remaining.
Weston Baer’s shot attempt missed the mark, then Brody Blackwell releases a decent look at a trifecta just before the buzzer sounded — but the ball came up short of its mark and the contest headed into overtime.
During that extra four-minute session, South Point missed all six of its shot attempts and mustered only two free throws from Nakyan Turner with 21.5 seconds left.
By then, the Marauders had already reeled off five straight points and were clinging to a 46-41 edge. Ty Bartrum canned two free throws with 18.2 seconds remaining and ultimately sealed the deal on the five-point triumph.
With the win, Meigs advances to the sectional championship game at 6 p.m. Friday when it takes on top-seeded Wheelersburg at Jackson High School.
After shooting 81 percent in the opening eight minutes, the Marauders went just 9-of-35 over the rest of the evening. The hosts, however, made their only field goal attempt in the extra session and also went 5-of-8 at the foul line over that span.
South Point was also in the bonus with 1:07 remaining in the third period, and the guests went just 1-of-5 at the charity stripe over the final nine minutes of regulation before going to overtime.
Both teams lost two starters apiece by game’s end, with three of the four being lost to fouls. MHS freshman Coulter Cleland also left the contest with 5:39 remaining in the third canto after aggravating a prior knee injury. He returned briefly in the third before sitting out the final 12 minutes of the game.
Simply put, it was the kind of tournament game that tests every part of your team’s makeup. And, as Hill noted afterwards, the Marauders somehow found a way to answer the bell.
“The credit goes to the kids tonight because they are very strong-willed and they aren’t afraid to battle. We never rolled over or played dead, and we sure didn’t give up. I haven’t had ball clubs like that in the past, but these kids have some true grit … and they showed it tonight,” Hill said. “We didn’t play our best basketball game by any stretch of the imagination, but we were able to do some things that propelled us into a victory.
“I told the kids about a story called David and Goliath near the end of the game. Little David believed he could beat the giant, and the giant is Wheelersburg. I told them that South Point is playing its heart out, and if we don’t believe that can we beat the giant — then let’s let them know so that they can play in the next round. Our kids responded and answered the challenge. They wanted to take on the giant, and that’s what we are going to start preparing for.”
The Marauders outrebounded SPHS by a sizable 31-22 overall margin, including an 11-9 edge on the offensive glass. The Maroon and Gold also committed 16 of the 29 turnovers in the contest, with five of those coming during the Pointers’ 12-4 third quarter charge.
Meigs netted 18-of-46 field goal attempts for 39 percent, including a 3-of-10 effort from behind the arc for 30 percent. The hosts were also 9-of-17 at the free throw line for 53 percent.
Baer paced MHS with 19 points, with all but two of those coming in the first half. Cooper Darst was next with eight points, followed by Cleland with six points and Ty Bartrum with five markers.
Zach Bartrum was next with four points, while Betzing, Nick Lilly and Wyatt Hoover completed the winning tally with two points each.
Hoover hauled in a team-high seven rebounds and Zach Bartrum was next with six boards. Lilly ad Ty Bartrum also grabbed five caroms apiece in the triumph.
The Pointers made 15-of-45 shot attempts for 33 percent, including a 3-of-16 effort from 3-point territory for 19 percent. The Blue and Gold also went 10-of-18 at the charity stripe for 56 percent.
Webb led SPHS with a game-high 21 points and Chance Gunther was next with eight points, followed by Turner and Roger Staggs with five markers each. Blackwell and Malone completed the scoring with two points apiece.
Malone hauled in a game-high eight rebounds and Staggs hauled in five caroms.
Meigs will aiming for its sixth overall sectional title in school history, as well as its first since the 2013 campaign.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.