The Battle for Meridian came down to the final seconds on Friday, Jan. 12. Maclay played a close game with its crossroad rivals, North Florida Christian; however, they ended up losing 47-43. Maclay has had success against NFC in the past, winning the last four matchups; nonetheless, the Marauders were unable to secure a fifth straight win. 

Neither team came hot out of the gate as NFC took a 12-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. Much like the first quarter, the second quarter was tight, but Maclay would face a 20-19 deficit going into the half. 

The third quarter was an intense and energetic eight minutes. NFC would be issued a warning but would win the third quarter 10-9. The Maclay vs. NFC rivalry was in full swing. The last quarter had a dynamic and absurd finish. The last five minutes of the game were back and forth as Maclay and NFC traded points. With only a couple of seconds left in the game, the Marauders found themselves down three with the ball. Maclay was not able to capitalize on the possession, and NFC sealed the win with a free throw. The hard fought game ended in a devastating loss for the Marauders.

“They [NFC] were able to stop us from scoring and we could not capitalize off of their mistakes,” junior Nash Beshears said. “We missed too many shots.”

The absence of starting senior point guard Jalen Crawford played a major role in the Marauder’s defeat. Crawford has been one of the star players on the team this year and has played a pivotal role in the Marauder’s wins. In addition to the loss of Crawford, all the juniors were out of town until Thursday. Because the juniors went on the annual junior ski trip, the team was unable to practice the week leading up to the game.

“We missed out on Jalen’s shooting ability and his ability to space the floor,” junior Zeke Podgorski said. “The team was unable to execute plans because we played selfish basketball. It just wasn’t a good game after our whole team missed a whole week due to the ski trip.”

The Marauders look to clean up many errors such as rebounding and shooting. The team has improved on defense the past couple of games, holding each opponent to less than 55 points. Despite this, they look to brush up on the offensive side.

“The team was unable to execute because we did not get out in transition enough after getting a rebound,” junior Davis Malone said. “We never pushed the ball up the court.”

Maclay looks to get back in the win column on Saturday, Jan. 13, against Chiles. The team also needs to refine many mistakes before they travel to Massachusetts next week where they will play Sci-Tech and Putnam Vo-Tech.