Meadville Comes From Behind to Top Mack’s Creek

The Meadville Eagles are headed to the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) State Championships for Class One on Saturday at 12:50 p.m. at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.  The Eagles, in their second consecutive Final Four, topped Mack’s Creek yesterday evening in an exciting semifinal contest.
A mere 16 seconds into the game, Mack’s Creek started things with a three-pointer.  A pair of free throw from Cade Shiflett would respond for Meadville at the 6:53 mark.  After a bucket from the Pirates, TJ Schmitz would tie the game with a three-pointer at the 4:30 mark.  Mack’s Creek would go on a 5-0 run from here, ending with a basket from Kolton Friesner with 1:24 left in the opening frame.  A putback late in the frame by Blake Burkholder would pull the Eagles within one point, 10-9 after one quarter was in the books.
At the 6:46 mark of the second quarter, a bucket from Schmitz would give Meadville their first lead of the semifinal game.  The teams would exchange one basket each after this, keeping things even.  A 5-0 Pirates run, though, would put the Eagles back in a hole.  But, Meadville battled back, and a late 4-0 run would tie the game once again with 53 seconds remaining in the half.  Points on this run came from Burkholder and Schmitz.  A three-point buzzer-beater from Mack’s Creek would send Meadville into the locker room with a deficit.  At halftime, Meadville trailed Mack’s Creek 24-21.
Mack’s Creek started the second half on a 4-0 run to extend their lead to its largest amount in the contest, seven points.  A basket from Shiflett at the 3:58  mark would take the lid off of the hoop for the purple and white.  But a quarter-ending 8-0 run, with a pair of three-pointers from Dalton Palmer and a basket from Friesner, would tie the game 32-32 after three quarters were said and done.
The Pirates started the final frame off with a basket at the 7:25 mark.  A three-pointer from Palmer at the 6:13 mark would respond and give the Eagles back the lead.  This basket, along with points from Burkholder and Shiflett, would send Meadville on a 9-0 run that lasted until near the midpoint of the fourth quarter.
A late 4-0 run from Mack’s Creek would end when the Pirates would be forced to foul the Eagles in hopes of stopping the clock.  Meadville responded, though, with clutch free throws from Friesner, Schmitz, Burkholder, and Palmer.  As the clock ticked down, the excitement was palpable on the floor of Mizzou Arena.  The Meadville faithful celebrated with their team, as the Eagles punched their tickets to the State Championship game with a 50-41 victory.
“I thought it was a game of two halves,” said Head Coach Darren Smith at the post-game press conference.  “Both teams defended well in the first half, and maybe we both were a little tight.  I thought that we missed some shots we should have made, but we may have made some we should have missed, I don’t know.
Coach Smith continued:  “In the second half, I thought a huge turning point was Dalton Palmer.  He came in, but was very frustrated after the first half.  We talked to him at halftime, and told him that he was going to be a key part of this win.  He made two or three three’s in the half, and led the charge to help us come back.  Defensively, our guys rebounded well.  We played a zone today to offset their big kids.  We don’t normally play a zone, but  Kolton Frienser, Cade Shiflett, and Blake Burkholder rebounded their heart’s out tonight.”