Meadow Heights wins MVC tournament title

Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Zalma's Colton Bailey drew a foul from Meadow Heights' Tyler Wagner on a baseline drive.

OAK RIDGE -- Meadow Heights sophomore Dustin Hubler is well aware that conference rival Zalma is a strong second-half team.

Earlier this season when Hubler's Panthers played the Bulldogs, Zalma came back from 30 down at halftime to lose by just six points.

He said that the Bulldogs' ability to score quickly and rally in the second half was on his mind Monday night when the two schools met in the championship game of the Mississippi Valley Conference boys basketball tournament. And it was something Panthers coach Tom Brown emphasized to his team with his team leading 32-27 at halftime.

"We slacked off up by 30, and we let the intensity go down and they made their run," Hubler said. "We were fortunate [to win]. We were up by five today, and we knew we needed to keep up the intensity. We were not up by 30 this time. And it was the championship game, so anything could happen."

Hubler scored 11 points in the third quarter to help the Panthers on a 30-12 run in the period to pull away from the Bulldogs and earn the 75-62 win.

Meadow Heights Dustin Hubler drove for a basket past Zalma's Colton Bailey and Kevin Walker (24) during the championship game of the Mississippi Valley Conference tournament Monday at Oak Ridge High School. (Kit Doyle)

Hubler poured in 19 points in the contest, and Tyler Wagner chipped in 18.

Meadow Heights improved to 9-8 this season.

The Panthers led 20-14 after the first quarter with the help of both Hubler and Wagner, who combined to score 12 of their team's 20 points in the period.

The Bulldogs outscored Meadow Heights 13-12 in the second quarter to cut the deficit to five heading into halftime.

Hubler said Brown reminded his team to pick up the intensity in the second half.

Meadow Heights' Tyler Wagner, center, tried to squeeze between Zalma defenders Colton Bailey, left, and Nick Smith during the championship game of the Mississippi Valley Conference tournament Monday at Oak Ridge High School. (Kit Doyle)

"He reminded us of the last game when they came back in the second half, and he said to make sure we kept the intensity up and not let them get open shots and to keep playing our game," Hubler said.

Hubler, a sophomore and the youngest member of his team, played especially strong in the third quarter. He scored a field goal to put his team ahead 41-32, then made a steal 9 seconds later and drove in for a layup and drew a foul. He converted his free throw to complete the three-point play and put the Panthers ahead 44-32.

"You just got to play hard 'D' on the full-court press, and I was lucky to get the steal," Hubler said. "They fouled me and I got the three-point play. That hiked up our morale and intensity, and we kept it going from there.

"They're able to score. You've got to play tough 'D' and not let them get open shots."

Wagner added: "I can't take it to the hole as good as he [Hubler] can. He can step up and drive in. I don't know how he does it."

Zalma's Justin Lemons took an offbalance shot during Monday's championship game.

Hubler said his team did not take any changes defensively in the second half. It kept running its full-court press and tried to wear down the Bulldogs.

Hubler, who earned a few starts last season, is in his first full year on the varsity. Wagner said he is impressed with the way Hubler has played.

"We knew he'd be one of the star players this year," Wagner said. "He's just awesome. ... He is pretty much the hardest worker on the team."

Meadow Heights20123013--75

Zalma (62) -- Travis Mergel 6, Colton Bailey 24, Nick Smith 4, Justin Lemons 24, Kevin Walker 2, Nick Montgomery 4. FG 20, FT 18-26, F 17 (3-pointers: Bailey 2, Lemons 2. Fouled out: none)

Meadow Heights (75) -- Matt Groves 2, Dustin Hubler 19, Derrick Wilfong 6, Tyler Wagner 18, Adam Welker 2, Ethan Mayfield 5, Zac Hotop 5, Derek Bess 2, Tyler Welker 9, Luke Nitsch 9. FG 31, FT 4-10, F 19 (3-pointers: Wilfong 1, Wagner 1, Hotop 1, Welker 3, Nitsch 1. Fouled out: none)

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