WELLSTON - Every loss hurts, but conference losses at home are especially damaging.
The Rockets had all kinds of momentum heading into Friday's matchup against Meigs; a game head coach Joe Briggs called a "disappointing game." Wellston had won five in a row and had a chance to hold onto at least a tie for first in the TVC Ohio Division standings.
But the visiting Marauders dominated the Rockets in every phase of the game, including on the boards to walk away with a 48-35 win.
Wellston fell to 10-7 overall and 6-3 in TVC Ohio Division play. Meigs improved to 7-11, 4-6.
"I thought Meigs played extremely hard, really harder than we did for most of the game," said Briggs. "We really struggled shooting the basketball tonight.
"Maybe we settled too much but it's hard to tell a kid when there's no one there not to shoot it because we had a lot of wide-open shots. It's hard to run a set to get a shot as open as we were getting. But you've got to knock them down and tonight we were unable to do it, which really cost us.
Meigs entered the game seeking revenge for an earlier 67-56 loss at home to the Rockets in December. The Marauders outrebounded Wellston 46-32, including 11 offensive boards, which they converted into six second-chance points.
"I was really disappointed. The first time we played them, we really hammered them on the offensive boards," said Briggs. "I didn't feel like we did a very good job of boxing out and having the opportunity for second-chance points.
"Tonight, it was just too much standing around and it was very disappointing."
Wellston's Matt Simpson was one of the few bright spots for the Rockets, finishing with a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. DeCota McKenzie had eight points, three rebounds, and five steals, while Jase Arthur and Jordan Lucas each had six points. Arthur had two assists, while Lucas finished with five rebounds and handed out three assists for Wellston.
Weston Baer led Meigs with 20 points, while Zach Bartum added nine points with four rebounds and three assists. Nick Lilly chipped in with seven points, 14 rebounds and five steals for the Marauders.
The Rockets jumped out to a 4-0 lead to start the game.
But the momentum changed after they hit just one of their final 10 shots from the field, while the Marauders connected on 5-of-10, including 2-of-2 from the free throw line to take a 13-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Meigs took a 22-12 lead into the locker room at halftime and Wellston never came closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Wellston closed the margin to seven on a three-pointer by Lucas with 6:31 to play in the fourth quarter. The Marauders, however, outscored the Rockets 11-6 the rest of the way to split with the Rockets in the season series.
"We held them under 50 points. You have to win those games at home," Briggs said. "I felt like we were the better team and right now the record shows we are the better team but we just did not play well."
Wellston didn't help itself offensively, as the Rockets finished just 13-for-51 from the field (25.4 percent), including a dismal 5-for-32 effort from three-point range (15.6 percent). The Marauders, meanwhile, shot 17-for-43 from the field (39.5 percent) and 3-for-10 from beyond the arc (30 percent).
"That's probably as poor as we've shot in a while," said Briggs. "I thought early on, we took some high-quality shots that just didn't go in. That probably led to us playing a little tight, second-guessing some passes and some touches.
"They were packing it in on Matt and giving us some open jump shots and we failed to hit them. I felt that led to us not being as engaged on the defensive end."
The Rockets hit the road for a TVC Ohio Division game at Athens on Tuesday. They will travel to Albany to face Alexander on Friday.