By JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
Behind a focused group of players on senior night, Logan Elm defeated visiting Circleville 101-40 Tuesday night.
The Braves’ seven seniors combined for 71 of those points.
“We’ve been here for a long time and a lot of us have been on varsity since our freshman year, so we know what it takes to win,” LE’s Jason Sailor said. “This being our senior night, a lot of people came here to support us. Parents put up a lot of stuff for us and we wanted to get a big win for them, so we were focused — not just winning for ourselves, but each other and everyone who came to watch.”
The five seniors who started Tuesday — Sailor, Gabe Chalfin, Trace Smith, Isaac Ward and Jeremy Wietelmann — got the Braves off to a fast start with four points off turnovers in the opening minute and hit nine of their first 10 shots from the field to jump out in front 22-0. By the end of the quarter, fellow seniors Xavier Kellough and David Harden had also added points as LE was up 30-2.
“The effort they put out there tonight, it really started with our defense,” LE coach Doug Stiverson said. “I thought we were extremely active defensively and that was able to get us out in transition.”
Logan Elm forced a dozen Tiger turnovers in the first quarter.
“We were just sharing the ball and playing together,” Stiverson said. “We feel like when we play together, we’re a pretty good basketball team. You could see the love for one another tonight — just the effort they put forth for each other and how happy they were for each other, it’s fun as a coach to watch.”
At halftime, LE was up 55-12 and the Braves led 82-24 after three.
The starting five subbed out for the Braves at the beginning of the fourth with Kellough and Harden coming out midway through the quarter.
Sophomore Tanner Holbert had the final nine points of the night for the Braves including a shot with 30 seconds left that put them over the century mark. He ended the night as the game’s leading scorer with 20.
For the Braves, Chalfin, Sailor, Ward and Wietelmann have been playing varsity basketball since their freshman seasons while Harden, Kellough and Smith spent some time on JV before joining the varsity group. But through it all, the group has stayed close, Sailor said.
“We’ve all been together since third grade and we’ve all been really good friends since then. It’s not always just basketball, it’s about spending time with your friends and basketball always brings us together. It’s what we love,” Sailor said.
He added it was fun to see his fellow seniors having success on the floor Tuesday.
“The guys who don’t start and play as much, they deserve it as much as the guys who start do. They’re at practice every day grinding and working hard,” Sailor said. “They get us ready for our games and they deserve it just as much as anyone.”
“I’m just extremely proud of this senior class. They’ve been through a lot,” Stiverson said. “We threw them to the fire as freshmen.
“It was tough on them as freshmen. We split them up to different levels. For them to stick together, that just tells you how close they are with one another and they’ve always encouraged each other and kept each other positive. They’ve always wanted each other to do well and I think that’s what kept them together.”
In an era where teams rarely see a senior class this big, Stiverson said it was great to see all the guys contributing Tuesday.
“I’m extremely happy for those guys tonight,” he said. “Trace Smith, defensively, was all over the place tonight. It’s fun to see Xavier and David come in and knock down some shots. And they played extremely hard and played with a lot of confidence. And you could see from the other four guys who have been up there a little bit longer and played some more minutes, how happy they were for them. I think that’s what makes this team special.”
Ward kicked in 19 points for LE while Harden and Sailor each had 12 and sophomore Braylen Baker had 10.
Freshman Briley Cramer led Circleville with 11 and Trevor Coleman added 10 on a night when the Tigers were without any of their seniors due to a season-long injury and COVID quarantines.
LE had a 26-18 rebounding edge in the contest with Chalfin grabbing five and Baker four for the Braves. Coleman led Circleville with six.
The Tigers ended the night with 26 turnovers to LE’s five.
The Braves (11-1, 9-1) have a tough stretch of basketball ahead before entering tournament play.
“We’re on the road three of our last four and we have some key games in the league,” Stiverson said. “We go to Teays Valley (Thursday) who gave us a tough game here at home. Liberty Union (Saturday) — an overtime game — we have to travel over there.
“We know we have our work cut out for us. We can’t be satisfied. I think that’s the thing about this team, they know they can still get better and they come in and work hard every day.”
Circleville (3-14, 2-8) is traveling to Bloom-Carroll Thursday and hosts Amanda-Clearcreek Saturday.
Logan Elm was a 45-23 winner in the reserve game.
Konnor Starkey led the Braves with 15 while Landon Long and Garrett Summers each had 10, Drew Tomlinson and Kyle Rine each had three and Carsen Summers and Brody Sabine each had two.
Parker Kidwell led the Tigers with eight, Angelon Travis put in five, Drew Moats and Nolan West each had three and Avery Ferrell and DeBord had two each.
Logan Elm 101, Circleville 40
Circleville — Drew Moats 1-0-2, Matthew Bradley 1-0-2, Trevor Coleman 3-2-10 Briley Cramer 3-3-11, Winston Jones 3-0-7, Preston Hulse 2-0-6, Ian Warden 1-0-2. Three-point goals — Coleman (2), Cramer (2), Jones, Hulse (2). Total — 14-35 5-8 40.
Logan Elm — Xavier Kellough 3-0-8, Jeremy Wietelmann 3-0-7, Isaac Ward 7-2-19, Braylen Baker 5-0-10, Jason Sailor 4-3-12, Trace Smith 3-0-6, Gabe Chalfin 3-1-7, David Harden 5-0-12, Tanner Holbert 9-0-20. Three-point goals — Kellough (2), Wietelmann, Ward (3), Sailor, Harden (2), Holbert (2). Total — 42-65 6-6 101.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Circleville 2 10 12 16 40
Logan Elm 30 25 27 19 101