MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Each of Meigs County's basketball players was still at least a decade away from being born the last time the program played a state tournament game. But the Tigers looked like tourney veterans for much of their Class A quarterfinal game Wednesday night against Columbia Academy.
Led by Mr. Basketball finalist Levi Woods, who totaled 18 points and 18 rebounds, the Tigers claimed a resounding 83-68 victory, advancing to the semifinals. Meigs County (31-4) will face Booker T. Washington on Friday at 2:15 EDT at Middle Tennessee State University with a berth in Saturday's championship game on the line.
"After that first quarter, I think we really got comfortable," Woods said. "We had some jitters because we haven't played on a stage this big, but as the game went on we felt more and more comfortable and our confidence kept growing.
"After a while you could tell we were wearing on them. They were getting down and we kept attacking."
It was Meigs County's first state tournament win since 1986, and the team, which has just one senior, looked comfortable imposing its hectic style on the Murphy Center court.
After trailing for much of the first half, Meigs County's up-tempo pace began to take a toll on Columbia Academy, resulting in a halftime margin that swelled to 12 points by the midway point of the third quarter.
The Bulldogs cut the lead to just four by the start of the fourth quarter, but Meigs (31-4) answered with back-to-back 3-pointers from Matthew Meadows and Camryn Harris to push its lead back to 10 midway through the fourth and maintained at least a six-point advantage the rest of the way.
"Our whole objective was to make them run a lot, wear them out," Tigers coach Sammy Perkinson said. "They shot 57 percent in the first half and we were still up. In the second half, we held them to just 40 percent shooting, so that says something about how we wore on them. They got tired and rushed some things, and we got easy baskets off of that.
"I'll say this, tonight was a lot easier than getting here. The pressure was off and our kids just went out and had fun."
The Tigers have yet to lose to a team in their classification this season but will face a BTW team that also plays a fast-paced brand and has scored 80-plus points 13 times this season.
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.