Red-hot Vikings handle Meigs

By Paul Boggs -

McARTHUR, Ohio — For the Meigs Marauders, everything changed in a McArthur minute.

After that, as Newfound Glory once sang, it was all downhill from here.

That’s because, bolstered by a 19-4 run in the final seven minutes of the opening quarter Saturday night, the Vinton County Vikings quickly caught fire — and went on to roll the visiting Marauders 77-49 in the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division boys basketball season finale.

That’s correct.

Vinton County blitzkrieged the Marauders with an incredible 40-12 spree over the first half’s final 15 minutes.

Meigs eventually found itself down 67-34, the Vikings’ largest advantage, midway through the fourth quarter.

Both teams finished their regular seasons at an impressive 17-4, but Vinton County — in winning its 11th all-time TVC boys basketball championship and its ninth since the 2003-04 campaign — captured the outright Ohio title.

The Vikings completed the season sweep of the Marauders, which tied Athens for third-place in the league at 8-4 — behind the 9-3 Alexander Spartans.

A Marauder win on Saturday night would have resulted in a Tri-Valley tri-championship, and would have certainly spoiled the Vikings’ Senior Night.

It wasn’t to be, though, as the tide turned immensely after the opening minute — with Vinton County shooting a sizzling 58-percent (28-of-48), including making half (10) of its 21 three-point attempts against the Marauders’ zone defense.

The Vikings canned two-thirds (18-of-27) of their shots from inside the arc, doubled up (28-14) the Marauders in total field goals, and amassed as many assists (14) as Meigs made total shots.

Vinton County led 19-9 after the first quarter, 40-17 at halftime, and finally 55-28 following three periods.

The closest the Marauders came in the final 22 minutes and 50 seconds was a 24-11 deficit.

“Meigs is a really good basketball team. Tonight was not indicative of the type of team they are. They just ran into a buzz-saw. The emotion of playing for our five seniors and we shot the ball really, really well,” said Vinton County coach Matt Combs. “It’s surprising to me that we were able to do it to that extent tonight. Against this quality of opponent, this is one of the best games we’ve played all year.”

Four Vikings scored in double figures, paced by Tristan Bartoe’s 23 points, which included half of the team’s 10 three-pointers.

Bartoe, who also made off with five of the squad’s seven steals, finished with eight total field goals and a pair of second-quarter free throws.

Chase Wood — on six field goals and 4-of-5 free throws — added 16 points, as Derrick Jones also dropped in six field goals for 14 points, including a pair of first-period threes.

Jordan Albright, on five field goals and a third-quarter free throw, netted 13.

He too knocked in two threes, while Naylen Yates — who scored seven points — nailed one.

Albright amounted a game-high seven rebounds and five assists, while Jones dished out four.

“Vinton County is a tough matchup for anybody because they have a good inside and outside game and they play so well off each other,” said Meigs coach Ed Fry. “They play so well together and they’ve played so long together.”

Fry thought Meigs committing eight of its 13 turnovers in the first half fueled the Vikings as well.

“I thought we were prepared to play tonight, but obviously they were more prepared than us mentally. It was what we did with the ball in the first half that just got us in that hole. All the extra possessions we gave them,” he said. “They converted off our turnovers. We have gotten by with that against some lesser teams this year, but you’re not going to get by against a team like Vinton County.”

Colton Lilly of Meigs personally scored the first five points — on the team’s only three-pointer until the final 1:55 and a pair of free throws.

But the Vikings roared back with six straight points in a matter of two minutes and five seconds, before Kaileb Sheets scored at the 3:25 mark to give Meigs its last lead at 7-6.

An old-fashioned three-point play by Wood, combined with five points apiece from Bartoe and Jones in the final two-and-a-half minutes to close the first quarter, and the Vikings extended their edge to double figures for the rest of the night.

Lilly led the Marauders with 16 points, including sinking 9-of-11 free throws — seven of which were after the first period.

Sheets scored five field goals and 2-of-2 second-quarter freebies for 12 points, while Dillon Mahr — on three field goals and 4-of-4 fourth-quarter foul shots — tallied 10.

Christian Mattox and Tyler Fields — on a field goal and 2-of-2 free throws apiece — finished with four points.

T.J. Williams, with Meigs’ only other three-ball in 15 total tries, rounded out the Maroon and Gold.

The Marauders shot 40-percent (12-of-30) from two-point range.

Meigs returns to the road, but this time in Division II sectional tournament action at Logan High School, on Wednesday night as it plays Logan Elm.

Tipoff time is set for 8 p.m.

The Marauders are the fourth-seeded squad in the Logan sectional, while Logan Elm is the fifth seed.

“This one didn’t go our way tonight, but nobody can tell us when the last time a Meigs boys basketball team won 17 games in the regular season. It’s been a good season so far for us. We were right in a conference championship race through the last day,” said Fry. “Now we have to re-direct our focus for a good tournament run to the Convo (Ohio University Convocation Center).”

Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106

By Paul Boggs