The game meant nothing in terms of district races or championships, but the emotion that Meigs County girls' basketball coach Jason Powell showed after his team defeated McMinn Central on Tuesday showed that the game meant a lot.
The Lady Tigers outlasted the Chargerettes 51-46 in a highly emotional, foul-filled contest at McMinn Central. Emileigh Swafford and Taylor Boggess scord 13 points apiece to lead Meigs (21-2), which is ranked fourth in Class A. It was Meigs' first win at McMinn Central in recent memory.
Madison Hampton added 11 for the Lady Tigers.
There were 48 fouls called, and five players -- Swafford, Angel Davis and Brandi Kilpatrick for Meigs; Peyton Williams and Elizabeth Trentham for the Chargerettes -- were disqualified. After earning her fifth foul with 58.5 seconds to go and her team ahead 49-43, Swafford was called for a technical foul. Unhappy with the recent calls, a fan threw two water bottles -- one full -- at the officials and was ejected.
When play resumed, McMinn Central's Bailey Martin missed the technical foul shots, and Meigs' Alex Dawson blocked a shot on the ensuing possession to end any threat of a rally.
The Lady Tigers, who hit 10 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter and were 20-for-27 for the game, split two trips to the free-throw line in the final seconds to put the game away. Powell was pleased by how the team responded to being down, as Meigs trailed by five at halftime. The McMinn Central lead grew to 37-27 in the third quarter, but Meigs went on a 21-2 run over the next 7:38 in assuming control of the game.
"I thought we came out very lethargic in the first half, and we just didn't have a lot of energy," Powell said. "We stepped it up a notch in the second half by getting after them defensively and getting on the boards. We kept battling, were very resilient and made the plays when we had to, and made stops when we had to.
"This was a good game to have late in the year. It's not a conference game anymore, but it's big to both communities."
McMinn Central (11-8) finished 14-for-25 on free throws, including 1-for-6 in the fourth quarter. The Chargerettes were led by Trentham's 11 points but were without four players, including freshman standout Jacobi Lynn -- who had 29 points when the Chargerettes beat Meigs 58-53 on Nov. 22.
"We've talked about it all year long, that if things went bad, how would we react?" McMinn Central coach Johnny Morgan said. "Tonight, we didn't make our foul shots when we needed to."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.