For the first time since the magical, state championship team took the title in 2015, the Meadville Eagle boys are champions in their own tournament.
The Eagles cruised to a 60-46 victory against Mercer in the championship game of the Meadville Invitational Tournament on Saturday evening. After the two teams spent the first eight minutes feeling one another out, Meadville held a 16-10 lead after one period of play.
After Meadville expanded its lead to 30-18 with 3:30 remaining in the first half, the Eagles would never lead by any less than an 11-point margin.
"We did a good job of controlling the pace of the game," Meadville coach Drew Nier said. "They tried to slow it down and tried to execute their offense, they thought slowing the tempo down was their best bet to keep it close, and I was proud of my kids for rebounding and pushing the ball in transition."
Meadville extended its lead to 19 points by the end of the third quarter at 45-26, and although Mercer hit four three-pointers in the final quarter, it proved to be too little to scratch back into contention. In fact, more than half of the Cardinals' points came from three-pointers -- they hit eight such shots to just five two-point field goals.
Mercer cut the Meadville lead to 51-39 with three minutes remaining in the game, but the Eagles took care of the basketball and made their foul shots down the stretch.
By the time Dillon Seckington threw down a crowd-rousing transition dunk with 1:50 remaining, the game was totally iced at 57-42.
"We had great energy, and I thought that showed throughout the course of the game," Nier said. "We played hard. We were disappointed we didn't win this tournament last year, we had a lead in the fourth quarter of that game (against Northwestern) and lost in overtime, and we felt like we let one slip through our fingers. In means a lot to our kids to be able to win our tournament, that was a goal they had.
"My main concern was how we played, and we're coming in more focused. It'll be key to build upon that down the stretch."
Dominik Gannan led his side with 19 points, and Seckington posted 16. Parker Burton was also in double figures in scoring with 10 points. Jase Cowan finished with eight points, and Jordan Schmitz with seven.
Mercer's Grey Porter led all scorers with 20 points, including knocking down one three-pointer in each period of play.
The Eagles improve to 16-4 on the season, and by the time of this publication, will have traveled to Galt for a Monday night matchup with Grundy County. They then travel to Novinger on Friday.