JACKSON, Ohio — They tamed the Baer, but the Senators ultimately ran into a different kind of beast.
Sophomore Coulter Cleland poured in a game-high 28 points and the Meigs basketball team shot 51 percent from the field Wednesday night en route to a 55-38 victory over 20th seeded Portsmouth West in a Division III sectional semifinal held at Jackson High School.
The 13th seeded Marauders (13-9) resorted to some alternative measures as the Senators (7-16) hounded MHS senior Weston Baer — the school’s all-time leading scorer — everywhere he went on the floor.
For the most part, PWHS was successful in its course of attack as the Orange and Black limited the 6-1 guard to just two field goals and 10 total points by night’s end.
That extra attention, however, provided the Maroon and Gold plenty of opportunities for others to step up — and that’s exactly what came to fruition.
Both teams battled through eight ties and seven lead changes, but the hosts never trailed in the second half and led the final 11:21 of regulation.
Wyatt Hoover’s basket with 3:21 remaining in the third canto broke a 28-all tie and sparked a 27-10 charge the rest of the way, allowing Meigs to complete the impressive 17-point triumph.
MHS had six players contribute to the scoring column, with half of that group producing double digits by night’s end. The Senators also shot only 30 percent from the field, including a 6-of-25 performance in the second half.
Given what goes into any tournament opener, Meigs coach Jeremy Hill was pleased that his troops stuck together for the full duration. By night’s end, that collectiveness was well-rewarded.
”We knew we couldn’t afford to underestimate West because they have a good ball club. I think we were a little tight in the first half, just trying to feel our way through the game, but West also had a lot to do with that,” Hill said. “The biggest thing for us tonight was that it was a total team effort. We made some halftime adjustments and the kids went out and executed the plan. Weston had a tough night, but he stepped up in other areas … and Coulter and Wyatt both picked up some of that scoring burden.
“We’re not a one-man show because you cannot be a successful ball club being a one-man show. I thought we showed our strength as a team, and all of these guys deserve credit for tonight’s win. It was a good win.”
Meigs jumped out to its biggest first half lead at 7-2 a little over four minutes into regulation, but the guests countered with a 9-4 run while pulling even at 11-all through one period of play.
Cleland produced 10 points in the second frame, but a half-dozen of those came in the final five seconds of the half.
The Senators were clinging to their final lead of the night at 21-18, but Cleland converted an old-fashioned 3-pointer while knotting things up at 21-all. Cleland then stole the inbounds pass and buried a trifecta just before the buzzer, capping a 13-10 push that gave the Marauders a 24-21 intermission advantage.
West rallied to tie things up at 26-all and again at 28-all with 4:52 left in the third stanza, but Hoover’s basket at the 3:21 mark gave the hosts a permanent lead. Meigs closed the quarter with 6-4 run and led 36-32 entering the finale.
The Marauders made 7-of-11 field goal attempts down the stretch as part of a 19-6 surge to close regulation. MHS took its largest lead of the night at 55-36 following a basket by Cleland with 13.5 seconds remaining.
The Senators outrebounded Meigs by a 26-23 overall margin, including a sizable 17-4 edge on the offensive glass. The Maroon and Gold also committed 11 of the 18 turnovers in the contest.
The Marauders went 20-of-39 from the field overall, including a 1-of-10 effort from behind the arc for 10 percent. The hosts also netted 14-of-19 free throw attempts for 74 percent.
Cleland added a team-best nine rebounds to go along with game-high 28 points, followed by Baer and Hoover with 10 points each. Hoover also hauled in seven caroms for the victors.
Bobby Musser was next with four markers, while Cory Cox and Morgan Roberts respectively finished things off with two points and one point.
The guests netted 16-of-53 shot attempts overall, including a 2-of-16 effort from 3-point territory for 13 percent. PWHS also went 4-of-7 at the charity stripe for 57 percent.
Nick Davis and Luke Howard paced the Senators with 12 points apiece, with Davis also grabbing a team-high nine boards. Brennan Bauer also contributed eight points in the setback.
Luke Bradford chipped in four points and seven rebounds, while Eli Adkins completed the scoring with two points.
The Marauders advance to the D-3 sectional final game and will face fourth seeded Wheelersburg at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night at Waverly High School. It is a rematch of last year’s sectional final contest as well.
“Nobody gave us much of a chance to beat them last year and we darn near pulled it off. I’m sure nobody is giving us much of a chance this year either,” Hill said. “They have everything to lose and we are just going to come in and play loose, and free, and see what happens.”
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.