ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — In regards to this family business, son knew best Tuesday night.
The Meigs boys basketball team moved over .500 for the season while handing head coach David Kight a victory over both his alma mater and his father following a 60-46 decision over visiting Jackson in a non-conference matchup at Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium.
The Marauders (7-6) shot 52 percent from the field and never trailed in the second half, but the hosts still needed a solid effort down the stretch to keep a pesky Ironmen squad winless on the 2013 season. Jackson — which is now 0-15 this winter — is coached by David’s dad and current JHS athletic director, Bob Kight.
Leading 35-31 headed into the finale, MHS nailed 8-of-10 shot attempts in the fourth quarter and was ahead by double digits for the first time all night at the 4:53 mark, but the Ironmen countered with a 7-0 run to get as close as 45-42 with 3:40 left in regulation.
The Marauders, however, answered the bell with a 15-4 surge the rest of the way to secure the 14-point triumph — the largest lead of the entire contest.
The victory allowed Meigs — which finished last year with a 2-18 overall mark — to secure just its fourth seven-win season since the 2005-06 campaign. It also showed that the Marauders are making major strides as a program under David Kight in his first season.
“The hardest thing to do is learn how to win. We are accepting that we don’t want to lose games, but we are still learning how to win games,” Kight said. “Rarely do we come into a game, on paper, as a favorite — and that may have been a little hard for us to handle early on tonight.
“We settled down late in the first half and started doing what we do, and we showed that we are learning how to put teams away. We won tonight without our A-game, and our kids learned to battle through the tough times while still producing. We showed that we know how to finish a ball game, and that’s what I’m most proud of tonight.”
There were seven ties and 10 lead changes in the contest, all of which came in the opening 16 minutes of play. Jackson claimed the biggest first half advantage at 12-8 with 1:14 left in the opening period, but MHS owned seven of the 10 leads exchanged before halftime.
The game was tied at 12 after one period of play, then both teams battled through three ties and five lead changes to find Jackson clinging to a 22-21 edge with 43 seconds left in the half.
Dillon Boyer hit a field goal with 21 seconds remaining to give Meigs a permanent lead at 23-22, and that basket sparked a small 4-0 run that gave the hosts a 25-22 edge at the intermission.
The Marauders committed five turnovers and hit 10-of-21 shot attempts in the opening half, while the guests had nine turnovers in the first two stanzas while sinking 10-of-25 field goal tries. Meigs twice led by three points in the second frame for its biggest cushion before the break.
Boyer capped a 4-0 Meigs run to start the second half for a 29-22 lead with 6:23 left in the third, but Evan Crabtree ended a 4-0 spurt over the next two-plus minutes to again get JHS to within a possession at 29-26.
The hosts responded with 6-1 run to take their biggest lead of the third period at 35-27 with 2:03 remaining, but the Ironmen ended the third on a 4-0 run to cut their deficit down to 35-31 headed into the finale.
Meigs stretched its lead out to double digits (45-35) with just under five minutes remaining, but Jackson countered with three straight baskets over the next 1:22 to again get within a possession at 45-42. The guests, however, never came closer the rest of the evening.
MHS made a 7-2 run for a 52-44 lead at the 2:02 mark, then an intentional foul was called on Jackson’s Jordan Helman at the 1:35 mark — allowing Cody Stewart to sink both freebies for another double-digit cushion.
The Ironmen were never within single digits the rest of the night, as the Marauders closed regulation with a 6-2 spurt to wrap up the final outcome.
Though still winless on the year, Bob Kight noted afterward that there were a lot of pluses to come away from this latest Jackson setback.
“We were really proud of the kids because of the heart and the hustle that they showed in the first half,” the elder Kight said. “Regardless of our record, we have always hustled and we are still playing hard. More importantly, we’re playing smarter each time out too.
“The big thing we learned tonight was that the more patient we are on offense, the more productive we are. We had some positive things come out of tonight’s game.”
The Ironmen connected on 20-of-50 field goal attempts overall in the contest for 40 percent, including a 3-of-13 effort from three-point range for 23 percent. The guests committed 16 turnovers total in the game and went 10-of-25 from the floor in each half.
Meigs, conversely, sank 23-of-44 shot attempts overall, including a 1-of-6 effort from behind the arc for 17 percent. MHS committed a dozen turnovers and also had team totals of 28 rebounds, 10 assists and four steals in the victory.
Dillon Boyer led the hosts with a game-high 25 points, followed by Cody Stewart with nine points and Treay McKinney with seven markers and a team-best seven rebounds. Kaileb Sheets and Dustin Ulbrich were next with six points apiece
Jordan Hutton chipped in five markers, while Ty Phelps had two points to round out the scoring for the Marauders — who were 13-of-17 at the free throw line for 76 percent. Meigs also made 9-of-13 freebies in the pivotal fourth quarter.
Casey Walker paced Jackson with 16 points, followed by Tyler Neal with 15 points and Evan Crabtree with six markers. JHS was 3-of-6 at the charity stripe for 50 percent.
The elder Kight is just as fierce as his son when it comes to competition, but he also took a moment to be a proud papa following the game Tuesday night.
“David’s coaching style and mine aren’t quite the same, but I am happy for both him and the Meigs program,” Bob Kight said. “He does it the right way, his kids play hard for him and they are having some success. They are fortunate to have him, and you can quote me on that.”
In contrast, David Kight was glad to have an emotional evening finally come to an end. Then again, there is always next winter.
“We’ve known this matchup was coming for some time, and we’ve shared conversations and joked about this game happening,” the younger Kight said. “We both knew it would be two hours of very stressful ball, because dad doesn’t want to lose and I don’t want to lose.
“It was a neat experience and it was fun, and we are under contract to do it again next year. I’m already looking forward to another stressful two hours with dad.”
When asked if this gave him bragging rights at the next family gathering, David Kight could only smile while trying to stay humble — proving his father didn’t raise a fool.
“I may have the bragging rights at the moment, but he still has my inheritance,” Kight said. “I’m going to have to be nice and not celebrate too much the next time we get together.”