By Brad Morris
Logan Elm turned a week’s worth of pent up energy into a 23-point outburst in the first quarter on Monday to take control of a non-league game and go on to defeat visiting Westfall 63-38.
“Our first quarter was excellent,” Logan Elm coach Doug Stiverson said. “We hadn’t played for about a week for certain reasons, so we came out with a lot of energy we had saved up and also for the fact that we were playing for the county championship.
“Our guys knocked down shots, they moved the basketball well and created good shots and then we were also scrappy on defense and forced a few turnovers.”
The Braves made eight of their first 10 (80 percent) shots and shot a crisp 25 of 41 (61 percent) overall.
Isaac Ward was 7 of 11 (63.6 percent) from the field and led all scorers with 18 points to go with three assists for the Braves. Jason Sailor drained 6 of 8 (75 percent) shots to follow with 16 points and Tanner Holbert was 5 of 8 (62.5 percent) and shooting and scored 14 points.
“Jason has been deferring a lot on offense so far this season, so it was nice to see him step up, be aggressive and knock down some shots,” Stiverson said. “Tanner had a nice second half to get us going and keep us going offensively.”
The Braves scored on nine of their first 10 possessions to take a 22-8 advantage, with 10 of the points coming off Westfall turnovers. Ward led the charge with 10 points and Sailor chipped in six to send Logan Elm into the second quarter with a 23-10 lead.
Westfall was a respectable 4 of 9 (44.4 percent) from the field in the first quarter, but had five of its 10 turnovers during the period.
“Our kids knew coming into the game that Logan Elm is the best team we’re going to play all season, but it took them a quarter to realize that Logan Elm’s kids put their shoes on one foot at a time just like we do,” Westfall coach Christian Meister said.
The two county rivals cooled off in the second quarter and were both 2 of 9 (22.2 percent) from the field, as the Braves added two points to their advantage and took a 29-14 lead into halftime.
“Westfall did a nice job of switching to a couple of different defenses there in the second quarter and we saw something we haven’t seen yet, so it slowed us down a little bit,” Stiverson said. “Give Westfall credit, because I felt their kids played hard, they battled and they did some nice things on the court.”
Westfall cut its deficit down to 34-25 approximately midway through the third quarter, thanks in part to six points from Trevor Wolfe and a three-pointer off the shooting hand of Tyler Shipley.
“I’m really proud of the way our kids continue to compete and work on executing our game plan,” Meister said. “Running a motion offense, it comes down to making the right reads and we have sophomores and juniors who are mostly starting for the first time at the varsity level.
“There are times we make the right reads and we look pretty good out there on the floor and there are other times where it doesn’t look as good. The only way you get better is to get that experience of learning how to make reads on a consistent basis.”
The Braves responded and closed the quarter on a 12-5 run, powered by five points from Sailor and four courtesy of Ward, to take a 46-29 lead into the fourth quarter.
“Logan Elm’s strength and experience gave us trouble at times,” Meister said. “The way you become as good as they are is through hard work and going the extra mile.
“When I came to Westfall last year, I looked at Logan Elm with what Coach Stiverson and Coach (Jeff) Holbert do over here and said that’s what I want to emulate and build over here at Westfall.”
Westfall finished 16 of 39 (41 percent) from the field, but just 2 of 9 (22.2 percent) at the free throw line. Luke Blackburn presented a matchup issue most of the night for Logan Elm and finished with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Mustangs. Wolfe and Ashton Nunemaker tallied eight points apiece.
“Luke’s motor just doesn’t stop and the scary thing is he’s playing injured,” Meister said. “Despite that, he still outworks everyone on the floor.
“He’s our only senior and an incredible leader who really helped our young kids when we started the season at 0-5 and getting us through that.”
“Blackburn is a load in the post and does a lot of different things for Westfall,” Stiverson said. “I felt Trace Smith and Braylen Baker did a good job of battling him in the paint and making him at least work hard for everything he got.”
The Braves (6-0) resume Mid-State League Buckeye Division play on Wednesday when they host Hamilton Township, while the Mustangs (4-9) entertain Adena on Friday for a Scioto Valley Conference tilt.
Logan Elm 63,
WESTFALL — Casey Cline 2-0-4, Trevor Wolfe 3-1-8, Ashton Nunemaker 3-0-8, Tyler Shipley 1-0-3, Luke Blackburn 7-1-15. Three-point goals — Ashton Nunemaker (2), Trevor Wolfe and Tyler Shipley. Total — 16-39 2-9 38.
LOGAN ELM — Landon Long 1-0-2, Isaac Ward 7-2-18, Braylen Baker 2-0-4, Jason Sailor 6-1-16, Trace Smith 1-0-3, Gabe Chalfin 3-0-6, Tanner Holbert 5-0-14. Three-point goals — Tanner Holbert (4), Jason Sailor (3), Isaac Ward (2) and Trace Smith. Total — 25-41 3-4 63.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Westfall 10 4 15 9 38
Logan Elm 23 6 17 17 63
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