PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — The Marauders are 32 minutes away from a possible coronation.
The Meigs boys basketball team ended regulation with a 14-0 run while handing Holly Pond its first loss of the season Wednesday during an 80-76 victory Wednesday in the second round of the 2016-17 King of the Smokies Christmas Classic being held in the Volunteer State.
The Marauders (5-4) picked up their fifth consecutive win in thrilling fashion after rallying back from a 76-66 deficit with less than five minutes left in regulation, using 14 unanswered points down the stretch to not only hand the Alabama Class 3A second-ranked Broncos (16-1) their first loss — but also advance to the championship game of the three-day holiday tournament.
The Maroon and Gold will face another Alabama-based program in the KOTSCC final on Thursday as they take on the Hayden Wildcats (9-2) at 6:30 p.m.
It was a battle from the opening tip, but the Marauders made the most of the start as Dillon Mahr scored eight points as part of 19-11 run that gave MHS an eight-point lead after one period of play.
HPHS, however, countered with five trifectas and received 13 points from Sewanee University commit Drew Jones as part of a 31-23 second quarter surge that tied the game at 42 headed into the intermission.
Holly Pond hit its final four trifectas of the game in the third stanza as the Green and White made a 23-16 run for a 65-58 edge headed into the finale.
The Broncos opened the early moments of the fourth with a small 11-8 run to secure its final double-digit lead of the game, but the Marauders reeled off the final 14 points en route to the triumph.
Free throws proved critical for Meigs down the stretch as it sank 11-of-13 attempts during the final period. The Marauders were 21-of-28 overall at the line for 75 percent and also sank five trifectas out of their 27 made field goals.
Mahr led the Maroon and Gold with 22 points, followed by 19 apiece from Christian Mattox and Luke Musser. Zach Bartrum and Jared Kennedy were next with eight points apiece, while Weston Baer and Garrett Buckley rounded things out with two points each.
The Broncos made 11 trifectas out of 25 made field goals and also went 15-of-22 at the charity stripe for 68 percent.
Drew Jones paced HPHS with a game-high 28 points, followed by Griffin Morris with 18 points and Matt Cahoon with 11 markers. Bailey Smith also added nine points in the setback.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.