WELLSTON, Ohio —That was definitely worth the wait.
After a 19-day layoff due to quarantining, the Meigs boys basketball team never trailed and shot 55 percent from the field Monday night while cruising to a 62-51 victory over 13th-seeded Wellston in a Division III sectional semifinal contest at WHS in Jackson County.
The 20th-seeded Marauders (5-8) showed little signs of rust in their first game since facing Jackson in a regular season matchup back on Feb. 5. The guests led all but 1:24 of the 32-minute affair and were ahead the final 27:38 of regulation, including a lead that never dipped below double digits over the final 19:34.
The host Golden Rockets (9-9) mustered ties at 3-all and again at 7-all with 3:50 left in the opening frame, but a Coulter Cleland and-1 conversion 12 seconds later put the Maroon and Gold ahead for good.
Cleland poured in nine of his 17 first half points in the first stanza while helping MHS establish a 14-10 advantage through eight minutes of play.
A Cyan Ervin bucket 23 seconds into the second canto closed the deficit back down to a possession, but the Blue and Gold missed their final seven shot attempts as Meigs went on a 10-0 run over the final 7:07 to secure a 24-12 cushion headed into the break.
Cleland — who followed an Andrew Dodson basket with eight consecutive points — gave the guests a permanent double-digit lead at 22-12 with 3:34 remaining in the half.
The Marauders took their largest lead of the night with 49 seconds left in the third as a Cleland basket made it 41-21. WHS reeled off four points to close the frame, giving Meigs a 41-25 edge headed into the finale.
Ervin capped a 14-8 push with a bucket at the 2:11 mark of the fourth, allowing Wellston to cut the deficit down to 49-39. The hosts, however, were never closer as Meigs converted 13-of-22 free throws down the stretch to wrap up the 11-point triumph.
The Marauders — who notched a postseason win for the fourth consecutive year — advance to face fourth seeded Adena in the D-3 sectional final on Friday night. Tipoff in Frankfort is slated for 7 p.m.
The Maroon and Gold outrebounded WHS by a 30-20 overall margin, including an 11-7 edge on the offensive glass. The guests also committed 12 of the 23 turnovers in the contest.
Meigs made 22-of-40 field goal attempts overall, including a 2-of-4 effort from behind the arc for 50 percent. MHS also netted 16-of-29 free throw attempts for 55 percent.
Cleland led the Marauders with a game-high 35 points, followed by Dodson with 13 points and a team-best eight rebounds. Wyatt Hoover was next with six points and seven caroms, while Braylon Harrison chipped in four markers.
Brayden Stanley and Caleb Burnem completed the winning tally with two points apiece.
Wellston netted 20-of-44 shot attempts for 45 percent, including a 7-of-21 effort from 3-point range for 33 percent. The hosts also sank 4-of-9 charity tosses for 44 percent.
Ervin paced WHS 16 points, followed by Hunter Smith and Evan Brown with nine markers each. Smith also led the Rockets with seven boards.
Gunner Harmon and Easton Riley respectively chipped in six and five points, with Garrett Brown adding four markers. R.J. Kemp completed things with two points.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.