Strong Defense Carries Meigs Past Wellston

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Coming off a tough loss Tuesday at the hands of Warren, Meigs Marauders head coach Jeremy Hill made it clear that losses don’t define you, it’s what you do with the losses that counts.

On Friday, against the Wellston Rockets, his team showed what they had learned. Tighter defense, less fouling, and a barrage of 3-point shots ushered Hill’s squad to a 56-37 victory.

Meigs began the game looking discombobulated, with turnovers on their first three possessions. Meanwhile, Wellston shot out of the gate, with two 3-point plays in the first few minutes of action to get a 9-2 lead. Hill decided to sub out four of his starters all at once after the rocky start.

“That was a ‘send a message’ type of thing. The starters didn’t actually perform the way we wanted and the way we prepared,” Hill said. “So we thought, let’s bring in four new ones that had prepared for this team the same way, and see what they can do – and also to open up those other kids’ eyes that, you know, you’ve got to play.”

The Marauders seemed to get the message, and they would rally to gain a slight lead; the score favoring them 17-16 after one quarter. Weston Baer, one of the starters who was pulled, helped his team recover in the first eight minutes, dropping eight points and supplying Meigs with a healthy dose of shooting.

Shooting seemed to be contagious for the Marauders, as the team rained in triples to stretch their lead to six points, up 32-26 at halftime. The team made nine 3-pointers in total, with many of them coming in rapid-fire fashion in the second quarter. Zach Bartrum, who has played more of a facilitator role for much of the young season, shot confidently against the Rockets, nailing all four of his 3-point attempts.

Baer and Bartrum were not the only outstanding individual performers for Meigs. Freshman Coulter Cleland was automatic in the open floor, scoring or getting fouled whenever he was on the break. He finished his day with 13 points and five rebounds. Nick Lilly also continued to outwork his opponents on the glass, ending with a monstrous 13 rebounds to go along with his five points, which included a three just before the half.

While the Marauders did have their share of gaudy offensive statistics, Hill had his own take on what the story of the game was.

“The storyline tonight needs to be the defense in the second half,” Hill said. “I don’t know if you guys were aware, but we had a varsity ballclub, and I don’t care what their record is, thats a varsity ballclub that was held to 11 points the whole second half.”

Meigs did indeed hold Wellston to five points in the third quarter and six in the fourth. Hill frequently unleashed Bartrum to dog-ball handlers 95 feet from the basket as his club sped the Rockets up and were quick to invade passing lanes in a dominant defensive showing. That, along with some unlucky misses for Wellston, resulted in nine steals for the Marauders, and plenty more turnovers that went down as unforced in the stat book.

Meigs will next face Oak Hill at Rio Grande on Saturday.