2024-05-23 6:07 AM

Memorial Day 2024 Issue!

Mustang Boys Return Home, Topple William Monroe in OT Thriller

          

  The Meridian boys’ basketball team finally got another chance to defend home court after five straight road matchups, hosting the William Monroe Dragons on Friday night. The JV squad tipped off with a dominant 40-22 win, and then it was the big boys’ turn as they looked to rebound from a shellacking at Skyline on Tuesday. Monroe’s edge in size and athleticism was apparent from the opening tip, but the Mustangs held the advantage in the hustle department, and it quickly figured to be a tight contest.

            Isaac Rosenberger scored Meridian’s first five points, all at the free throw line, and then Jarrett Jardine made a layup to give the home team a 7-4 lead before back-to-back threes by the Dragons put them ahead. It was a game of runs early on, as the Mustangs scored the next four points to lead 11-10 after the first quarter, but then Monroe jumped out to a 17-13 advantage late in the second. The home team ended the first half on a positive note, though, as Will Davis hit a three to give the Mustangs a 20-19 edge into the break. Both teams struggled to shoot the ball in the first half, relying heavily on free throws and the fast break for much of their scoring.

            The second half started with a few lead changes before Meridian used a 7-0 run to take their biggest lead of the night at 29-23, forcing a Monroe timeout. The Dragons answered with five straight points of their own, but it didn’t faze the Mustangs, who responded to lead 38-33 heading into the final eight minutes. However, a 10-0 run by Monroe early in the fourth put the visitors back in front, thanks to a few and-1 plays including one on a three-pointer. Meridian tied things back up at 43 apiece midway through the period, and after trading baskets a few more times, the teams found themselves knotted at 47 in the closing seconds. Both missed on final opportunities to win it in regulation, and the packed Falls Church crowd was treated to overtime.

            Monroe scored the opening overtime bucket, but a Wyatt Trundle three-pointer and two Grant Greiner free throws put the Mustangs ahead 52-49 with under two minutes to go, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Trundle found himself wide open underneath the basket to put the home team up by four in the final minute, and after the Dragons turned it over on the ensuing possession, it became a free throw contest the rest of the way. Meridian was able to put it away at the line for a 59-54 victory, in perhaps the most intense matchup of the season.

It was a complete team effort for the Mustangs, who got solid production from all five starters. Trundle had 15 points to lead the way while Jardine and Greiner both had 10, and Rosenberger and Daylen Martino added nine apiece.

“We played hard,” said head coach Jim Smith, who went on to call the victory his squad’s best win this season… for now. “Hopefully by the end of the year, it won’t be,” he added.

            Meridian’s next action will come next Tuesday as they continue their homestand, hosting a Warren County team that they beat 83-46 two weeks ago.

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