By Brad Morris
Considering there was no summer basketball and a limited preseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not surprising that most teams are starting the season behind where they would normally be due to limited time on the court.
That’s where Logan Elm could potentially exploit its experience with three starters entering their fourth season in the lineup and another starter entering his third season.
Despite falling behind by as many as 13 points in a Mid-State League Buckeye Division game, the Braves showed their experience by making a series of adjustments to rally and defeat the visiting Teays Valley Vikings 57-47 in the season-opener for the Pickaway County rivals.
“We know each other pretty well and that’s the good thing about having four best friends playing together,” Logan Elm senior guard Jason Sailor said. “We can make adjustments and we can lean on each other when we need to in order to make a run like we did.”
The run Sailor alluded to was a 31-10 surge over the final three minutes and 10 seconds of the second period and the entire third quarter that turned a 23-10 deficit into a 41-33 lead.
After hitting just four of their first 17 (23.5 percent) shots, which included being blocked four times, the Braves finally started to heat up by converting on five of their last seven (71.4 percent) shots to close the half.
Gabe Chalfin started the run with a three-pointer from the right wing and Isaac Ward followed by canning a jumper from 16-feet out.
Tanner Holbert later drained a triple from the left wing and, following a Jeremy Wietelmann layup in transition, fed Chalfin for an old-fashioned three-point play to trim the Vikings’ lead to 25-23 heading into halftime.
Logan Elm used its defense to force four turnovers during the 13-2 surge to end the first half and went on to collect 17 turnovers for the game.
“To be honest the high-low that Teays Valley ran to start the game kinda caught us by surprise and we had to adjust to that,” Logan Elm coach Doug Stiverson said. “Their size and length bothered us early, but we got more helpside defense on Teays Valley’s bigs and then we were more active out front defensively, using our hands to get some deflections and steals to finally get some baskets in transition to get our offense going.”
The Braves picked up where they left off at halftime and claimed their first lead of the night at 27-25, following a pair of free throws from Ward, early in the third quarter.
Sailor led the charge during the period, scoring all eight of his points on 3 of 4 (75 percent) shooting.
“We’re at our best when we are spreading the floor, getting some isolation, driving to the basket and kicking for the open shot,” Sailor said. “We set each other up on offense and we feed off of the success each of us have.”
The Vikings cut their deficit to six points twice in the final stanza, but that’s as close as they could come, as Chalfin scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter for the Braves on 4 of 4 shooting.
“Gabe really scored the rock well all night and had a big fourth quarter, Isaac played well and we had a lot of contributions from everyone,” Sailor said.
Teays Valley was crisp on offense to start the game, making 10 of its first 15 (66.7) shots to open up a 23-10 lead.
Peyton Weiler knocked down back-to-back three-pointers and Eli Burgett tossed in four points to help give the Vikings a 14-8 lead after a quarter of play.
“Our inside game is our strength right now with Cameron Dyas-Rogers and Eli Burgett,” Teays Valley coach Brian Barnett said. “We did a nice job of getting them touches around the basket where they could score and we also got the ball going inside-out some, with Peyton Weiler knocking down a couple of threes.
“We started the game well, but then I felt like we got off-balance with some things, starting in the second quarter, on offense, and Logan Elm made some adjustments as to how they drove against our bigs to get some kickouts for stand-up threes.”
Five points to open the second quarter courtesy of Garrett Meddock and four markers from Camden Primmer stretched the lead to 23-10 and forced Stiverson to burn a timeout.
Teays Valley held a 16-5 rebounding advantage over its hosts in the first half, but Logan Elm turned it around in the second half to claim a 10-8 edge on the glass.
“We talk to our bigs about owning the boards, both on offense and defense, and we did a really nice job of that in the first half,” Barnett said. “Logan Elm made a few adjustments and they were able to get to the boards better in the second half and then there were also fewer chances because they were hitting their shots.”
Chalfin led all scorers with 26 points, Ward followed with 14, Holbert chipped in seven points and a pair of steals and Sailor added four assists and two steals to his aforementioned eight points.
Dyas-Rogers paced the Vikings with 14 points, five rebounds and three blocks, Primmer tallied 11 points, and Meddock and Weiler added nine apiece.
It was the first time in approximately nine months the Braves have played since winning a district championship last season as a seventh-seed before the regional and state tournament were canceled due to COVID-19.
“It’s been a strange year for everyone with COVID-19 and it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to play a game after winning the district championship,” Stiverson said. “We didn’t get closure on the tournament and then we’re used to getting in a lot of games during the summer and working on things for the season.
“We had a rough start, but I felt our experience showed up, we made good adjustments and our guys played well. We got a lot of contributions from different guys at different times, from Gabe Chalfin and Isaac Ward scoring to Tanner Holbert giving us some good minutes on both ends of the floor and Trace Smith and Braylen Baker battling inside for some rebounds. It was nice for our guys to be able to play together again and start the season with a win.”
Both teams continue league play on Saturday, as the Braves (1-0, 1-0) travel to Bloom-Carroll and the Vikings (0-1, 0-1) host Liberty Union.
Logan Elm 57,
Teays Valley 47
TEAYS VALLEY — Cameron Dyas-Rogers 4-8-14, Garrett Meddock 4-0-9, Peyton Weiler 3-1-9, Eli Burgett 2-0-4, Camden Primmer 5-1-11. Three-point goals — Peyton Weiler (2) and Garrett Meddock. Total — 18-34 8-12 47.
LOGAN ELM — Jeremy Wietelmann 1-0-2, Isaac Ward 5-4-14, Jason Sailor 3-1-8, Gabe Chalfin 9-5-26, Tanner Holbert 2-1-7. Three-point goals — Gabe Chalfin (3), Tanner Holbert (2) and Jason Sailor. Total — 20-44 11-13 57.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Teays Valley 14 11 8 14 47
Logan Elm 8 15 18 16 57
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