ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Meadowbrook needed to re-assess a few areas of its performance at halftime of Friday's Division II sectional opener against Buckeye Local.
The Panthers held a 21-18 lead though neither team played particularly well. Both teams were guilty of 10 first-half turnovers. But the Colts had another issues, namely free-throw shooting.
The Colts were 3 of 9 at the break and only 10 points from leading scorer Cam Summers kept the designated home team within striking distance.
The second half, however, saw Meadowbrook take better care of the ball, play solid and aggressively on defense and convert just enough at the line for a 47-44 victory.
The victory sends the the Colts to a Tuesday night showdown with Carrollton at Ohio University Eastern. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m.
''At halftime we talked about taking better care of the ball and the need to hit some foul shots,'' said Meadowbrook coach Keith Arnold, his team improving to 12-11. ''A lot of times in the tournament you have to win ugly and we were able to come out on top.''
Fortunately for Meadowbrook, while its offensive efforts took a while to find consistency, defensively was a different story.
Kyle Michalo led Buckeye with 16 points and Brennan Czuchran had 14, but you could count on one hand the number of uncontested shots the Panthers managed to get off.
The Colts' man defense left little room to maneuver and looks created off screens closed nearly as quickly as they opened.
''For us to play well, we need hit some buckets in transition and they shut us down on that,'' Buckeye coach Jay Morris said. ''That hurt. We played well in spurts, but outside of the first few minutes, we weren't able to get anything in transition.''
That was the idea, according to Arnold.
He wanted to make sure the Panthers' top two scoring threats weren't able to get an open look at the basket.
''Defensively, we played well,'' Arnold said. ''We didn't want Michalo and Czuchran getting comfortable.''
A runner from Nathan Frencik with 3:35 left in the third trimmed the deficit to one for Meadowbrook and began the pinnacle series of the game.
Frencik's first points started off a 15-0 run for Meadowbrook that lasted until Czuchran drained a 3-pointer with 6:15 left.
Meadowbrook went from being down three to up 12 in the span of less than 6 minutes.
Buckeye didn't go away, whittling away at the lead and eventually narrowing it to two on a Michalo triple with 8.8 seconds showing.
But Summers hit the front end of a two-shot foul to push the lead to three and the ensuing toss downcourt resulted in a jump ball call as the clock expired.
''They didn't give up and they haven't all year,'' Morris said of the Panthers. ''We finished 12-11, the first winning season at Buckeye in I think eight years, and they had to win four of their last five in a span of five days to do that.
''I've enjoyed coaching this team as much as any I've coached.''
Summers finished with a game-high 20 points for the Colts, backed by nine apiece from Frencik and Dalton Singleton. Frencik had seven during the key third quarter after shaking off an 0-for-6 start in the first half.