By Brad Morris
Doug Stiverson didn’t know know what to expect on Tuesday with Logan Elm playing its first game in a month due to a COVID-19 quarantine.
But the long-time Logan Elm coach had his mind put at ease last week when the Braves returned to practice after a three-week layoff.
“The way these guys came into our first practice after the layoff (on Dec. 28), it was extremely impressive to be honest about it,” he said. “It goes back to this being a veteran group. The focus our guys brought into practice and their desire to play basketball together was something else.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming into this game, so we just talked about playing hard, playing with effort and if we did those things that good things were going to happen for us.”
And that good thing was a victorious return to the court with the Braves claiming a 49-28 non-league win over visiting Bexley.
The Lions entered the game averaging 61 points per game in wins over Watkins Memorial and Olentangy Berlin, but were shutdown by the Braves to a paltry 10 of 32 (31.3 percent) shooting with 17 turnovers.
“Our guys played extremely hard all night long and it started with the defensive intensity they played with and how hard they competed,” Stiverson said. “We knew Bexley was taller than us, had some nice shooters and is a good basketball team, so the way our guys came out and played defensively after six practices and a month without a game was something to watch.”
Isaac Ward led the way with a game-high 14 points for the Braves and Jason Sailor followed with 10 points, Gabe Chalfin tallied six points and six rebounds, Tanner Holbert also tossed in six points and Braylen Baker added five points and seven rebounds. Jeremy Wietelmann accounted for three steals, four assists and four points.
“We knew Bexley played underneath a lot of things, so our guys did a nice job of being patient and working the basketball until we got the shots that we wanted,” Stiverson said.
Ward gave the Braves a 5-0 lead with a three-pointer from the left corner and a pair of free throws in the opening stanza. Baker then connected on a bonus ball and put back a missed shot to stake the Braves to a 10-4 advantage.
“Both teams were trying to feel each other out early, but Isaac got us going and then Braylen also gave us some good production,” Stiverson said.
Sailor closed the second quarter by scoring eight straight points, which included back-to-back triples, to send the Braves into halftime with a 25-13 lead.
“Jason’s two threes gave us a lot of momentum heading into halftime and we built off that in the third quarter,” Stiverson said.
Sailor opened second half scoring by draining a 15-foot jumper that was later followed by a three-pointer off the shooting hand of Holbert and back-to-back layups by Ward to put the Braves ahead 34-14.
“We started the third quarter kinda slow again, but our guys stayed with the plan, worked for good shots and we were able to extend our lead,” Stiverson said.
Despite giving up some height to the Lions, the Braves and their guests finished the night with 27 rebounds apiece.
“That’s something we really focused on using proper technique and getting into people to overcome some of the height disadvantage,” Stiverson said. “We had (five) offensive rebounds in the first half that gave us some extra shots and helped us extend the lead.
“Gabe, Braylen and our other guys all did a nice job of working hard for rebounds.”
Dom Gutter had eight points to pace the Lions (2-1).
The Braves (3-0) resume Mid-State League Buckeye Division play on Friday at Circleville.
Logan Elm 49
BEXLEY — Dom Gutter 2-3-8, Cade Phillips 2-0-4, Will Cordle 2-0-4, Griffin Wagenbrenner 1-2-4, Chris Mitchell 1-2-4, Tucker Harpe 1-0-2, Michael Agriesti 1-0-2. — Don Gutter. Total — 10-32 7-16 28.
LOGAN ELM — Jeremy Wietelmann 2-0-4, Isaac Ward 3-7-14, Braylen Baker 2-0-5, Jason Sailor 4-0-10, Gabe Chalfin 1-4-6, David Harden 2-0-4, Tanner Holbert 2-1-6. Three-point goals — Jason Sailor (2), Tanner Holbert, Isaac Ward and Braylen Baker. Total — 15-36 14-18 49.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Bexley 4 9 4 11 28
Logan Elm 10 15 11 13 49
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