• 59°

Eagles pull away from Flyers in sectional finals

St. Joseph point guard Payton Blair (3) drives the lane for a layup against Eastern Meigs in the Division IV sectional finals. The Flyers lost 51-32. (The Ironton Tribune / Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

WELLSTON — One more bad start meant a bad end for the St. Joseph Flyers.

Falling behind by 19 at the half, the Flyers mounted a second half rally that stalled as they lost 51-32 to the top-seed Eastern Meigs Eagles Wednesday in the Division IV sectional finals.

“We’re notorious for bad starts and you can’t afford to get behind to a team like Eastern,” said Flyers’ coach Jeremy Williams. “Eastern is a good team and they’re well-coached. They turn their offense over and over and run clock until they get the shot they want.”

The Flyers managed just 13 field goal attempts in the first half due to 12 turnovers and the disciplined Eastern offense.

A 3-pointer by Tyler Hendrix and a layup by Devon Baum broke open a close game as Eastern pulled away to a 19-7 first quarter lead.

Afoul shot by Jonathan Barrett and two by max Carnahan extended the Eagles’ lead to 30-11 at the break.

St. Joseph fell behind 37-12 with 6:25 on the third quarter clock as the Eagles went on a 7-0 run.

But the Flyers didn’t quit.

Justin Mahlmeister and Tanner Riley drained trifectas, T.J. Young made a layup, Payton Blair turned a couple of steals into layups and Riley buried another triple as the Flyers cut the deficit to 39-27 with 2:13 left in the third quarter.

“We had to start pressing to try and get the game in our tempo, but with only six players it’s hard to do. Cody (Blackburn) was playing on a bad ankle but he gutted it out and gave us what he could,” said Williams.

“I can’t complain about our effort. Everyone gave it everything they had, we just didn’t have the depth.”

Trailing 41-27 going into the fourth quarter, the Flyers got within 43-30 on a trey by Young with 7:01 left, but St. Joseph didn’t score again until a layup by Mahlmeister with 44 seconds to go.

By then the Eagles had converted 6 of 9 at the line to go with a layup by Carnahan to pull away to the win.

Mahlmeister finished with 10 points while Riley had eight and Young seven to pace the Flyers who finished 13-8. Blair had three assists and two steals with Eli Lewis and Young grabbing four rebounds each.

Eastern held a 24-14 rebound advantage as the Flyers managed only one offensive rebound.

Baum scored 12 and Connery 10 for the Eagles.

Ranked eighth in the final Associated Press poll, Eastern (18-3) will play in the district semifinals against Leesburg Fairfield on March 8.

St. Joseph 7 4 16 5 = 32

Eastern Meigs 19 11 11 10 = 51

IRONTON SAINT JOSEPH (13-8): Payton Blair 2 0 1-3 5, Eli Lewis 0 0 0-0 0, Tanner Riley 1 2 0-0 8, Justin Mahlmeister 2 2 0-0 10, T.J. Young 2 1 0-2 7, Cody Blackburn 1 0 0-0 2, Zack Dalton 0 0 0-0 0, Grant Geswein 0 0 0-0 0, Aaron Haas 0 0 0-0 0, Joseph Payton 0 0 0-0 0, Lane Johnson 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13-30 1-5 32. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: Blair (4th 2:57). 3-point goals: 5-14. Rebounds: 1 offense, 13 defense = 14 (Lewis 4, Young 4, Mahlmeister 3). Team rebounds: None. Assists: 8 (Blair 3, Lewis 2). Steals: 5 (Blair 2). Turnovers: 15. Blocked shots: Lewis.

EASTERN MEIGS (18-3): Brayden Pratt 1 0 3-4 5, Tyler Hendrix 1 2 0-0 8, Kyle Connery 2 1 3-5 10, Devon Baum 5 0 2-2 12, Jonathan Barrett 2 0 2-4 6, Maatthew Whitlock 2 0 0-0 4, Max Crnahan 2 0 2-2 6, Chris Bissell 0 0 0-0 0, Zakk Heaton 0 0 0-0 0, Sam Collins 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-34 12-17 51. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: None. 3-point goals: 3-9. Rebounds: 6 offense, 18 defense = 24 (Hendrix 7, Connery 6). Team rebounds: 2. Assists: 10 (Connery 4). Steals: 8 (Connery 3, Whitlock 2, Carnahan 2). Turnovers: 10.