Meadville's boys' basketball team played some of its sharpest ball of the season on Thursday night. It could not have come at a better time.
The Eagles defeated Glasgow, 71-41, in the semifinals of Tina-Avalon's Class 1 District 11. After a several game stretch of less-than-impressive shooting nights, Meadville came out and knocked down four of its first five three-pointers while building a 24-12 lead through the first quarter.
From that point onward, Glasgow never got within closer than that 12-point margin. The Yellowjackets burned their first timeout just over two minutes into the game trailing 10-2, but it did little to slow the Eagles' roll.
Meadville beat Glasgow by just nine points in overtime back in November, 68-59.
"We had a couple good days of practice, and the past few weeks, we'd gotten away from understanding what we do well," Meadville coach Drew Nier said. "We were able to get going early, and I think that kind of rejuvenated our step a little bit. Defensively, I thought we did a great job of limiting what they were able to do offensively, and we turned some of those defensive stops in to transition points. On the other side, some of those inside-outside kick outs are what have made us dangerous the past few years, and we've gotten back to that."
Dangerous Glasgow scorer Adris Hamilton was held in check on Thursday night, although he still finished with 19 points and got to the line for 15 free-throw attempts. Nier said that his team would work in practice on how to disallow scorers from drawing contact on the way to the basket before Saturday's championship game.
Senior forward Dillon Seckington led Meadville with 21 points. Jordan Schmitz and Dominik Gannan both posted 16 points, and Parker Burton finished with seven. Conner Fletcher posted five, and Ethan Newlin and Tanner Berry both knocked down a three-pointer.
"We came out hyped up, and we knew we had to come out, shoot, and fight," Burton said. "We did a great job of having our best offensive guys crashing for boards, and we got a bunch of put-backs tonight. When we didn't get those rebounds, our guards are some of our best defenders, and they did a great job of getting back and not allowing them to get anything off of a fastbreak."
The Eagles have finally gotten over the three-year hump of losing in district semifinal games, including falling to Glasgow in that very round two seasons ago. Meadville advances to 21-3, and will face a pesky 20-5 Slater side for the district championship on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Third-seeded Slater drained second-seed Northwestern on Thursday night in the semifinal on the bottom side of the bracket, 61-38.
Slater and Meadville have not met this season.
"We've got to come out and keep pushing forward," Newlin said. "They're a good basketball team, and they're going to throw some offenses at us. We'll really have to key in on some of their cuts, but we'll practice against it and stay focused. Our ultimate goal is to make it to state, but they're telling each other the same thing."