By Brad Morris
ASHVILLE — Normally a player has spots on the floor that he is most comfortable shooting from.
But this wasn’t a normal evening.
Isaac Ward was comfortable from just about every spot on the floor Thursday, including draining a three-pointer from the volleyball line during the first-quarter.
“That was a heat check,” said a chuckling Ward. “I was feeling it, so I said why not and drained it.”
Ward made his first six shots from the field and scored 19 of his game-high 37 points during the opening stanza, powering Logan Elm to early control of a 61-48 Mid-State League Buckeye Division win over the host Teays Valley Vikings.
“I was feeling good in warm-ups and I carried that confidence into the game,” Ward said. “I made some early shots and my teammates did a nice job of getting me open and continuing to feed me the basketball.
“I kept shooting, because everything was going in.”
Ward fell two points short of his career-high of 39 points set last month in a double-overtime win over Liberty Union. The Logan Elm senior guard shot 10 of 11 (90.9 percent) from the field in the first and fourth quarters and finished the game 12 of 17 (70.6 percent). Eight of Ward’s 12 baskets were from behind-the-arc.
Ward credited his team’s unselfish nature for helping lead to his big night.
“That’s one of our best qualities, because we have a team that’s very unselfish and all we care about is winning games,” he said. “I was hot (on Thursday), but in our next game it could be Gabe (Chalfin), Jason (Sailor) or someone else.”
The performance helped the Braves (12-1, 10-1) open a critical three-game road swing with a win over the Vikings (7-8, 7-5), as they look to wrap-up the league championship for the first time since 2016. Logan Elm remained two games ahead in the loss column of idle Bloom-Carroll (12-6, 9-3) with three league games remaining on its league docket.
“This was a big win to start out this run of games we have,” Ward said. “It was nice to finish the season (5-0) unbeaten against the county and we also want to win the league championship. That’s a goal we set before the season started.”
Teays Valley held a 14-11 lead late in the first quarter, following a layup by Luke Sachs, but the Braves responded by converting their final four possessions to put together a run of 10 unanswered points.
Ward nailed a triple from the left wing and then sized up and drained his shot from the volleyball line, approximately 30 feet away from the basket. Following a layup by Gabe Chalfin, Ward was fouled on a jumper and drained both free throws to send the Braves into the second quarter with a 21-14 lead.
“When he hit that shot from 30-feet out, I knew he was going to have it all night,” Logan Elm coach Doug Stiverson said. “It was a back-and-forth game there in the first quarter and Isaac helped to get us on a run to where we could get out to a lead in an important league road game.”
A steal and layup followed by a three-ball from Braylen Baker extended the Braves’ lead to 26-16 early in the second quarter.
“Isaac did a lot of our scoring, but it was also important to have other guys step up when he missed a shot here and there and contribute offensively,” Stiverson said. “Braylen did a nice job of battling in the post and then he also ran the floor pretty well and was able to get a few easy baskets. He’s done a nice job of running the floor all season.”
Camden Primmer worked to cut into the deficit, banking in a shot and laying in two more baskets, the first of which came via a nice behind-the-back pass from Peyton Weiler. Primmer, however, was contacted on the second layup and hurt his ankle on the play. He missed the final 2:30 of the first half and tried to gut his way through pain in the second half before leaving with Logan Elm leading by double-figures in the fourth quarter.
The night started with the Vikings missing junior Cameron Dyas-Rogers with a broken hand and the injuries continued to pile up with Weiler suffering a banged up ankle and knee.
The Vikings cut the Braves’ lead to as few as five points, but Logan Elm ultimately held serve and took a 31-24 advantage into halftime.
Logan Elm shot 7 of 10 (70 percent) in the fourth quarter and led by as many as 15 points. Ward was 4 of 5 (80 percent) from the field with 11 points, while Tanner Holbert knocked down a triple and Chalfin and Jeremy Wietelmann each added a basket.
“Ward is a special player. We could not stop him tonight,” Teays Valley coach Brian Barnett said. “We ran a lot of people on him and he did a nice job of getting baskets.
“Logan Elm is so disciplined and take care of the ball so well. They do not commit unforced turnovers. If you are going to beat them you have got to play solid defense and shoot the ball well on offense.”
Chalfin finished with seven points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Braves and Jason Sailor also had seven points to go with three assists.
“Gabe did a nice job of attacking the basket and also kicking when the shot wasn’t there,” Stiverson said. “Jason and Tanner Holbert each knocked down a big three that allowed us to really extend our lead.”
After being out-rebounded 15-8 in the first half, Stiverson was pleased the Braves tied the Vikings with seven boards apiece in the final two quarters of play.
“That’s something we talked about at halftime and our guys did a much better job in the second half, especially at the defensive end, against a taller basketball team,” he said.
Both teams shot the ball effectively from the field, as the Braves were 21 of 43 (48.8 percent) and the Vikings went 19 of 37 (51.4 percent).
“We did a nice job of taking away the three, but Teays Valley hurt us too many time off the dribble,” Stiverson said. “We didn’t do a good enough job on our closeouts and keeping them in front of us.
“Fortunately, we were able to put together enough spurts defensively that allowed us to take control of the game.”
Primmer paced the Vikings with 11 points, Eli Burgett contributed 10 points and five rebounds, Liam Sachs had nine points and four assists and Weiler also turned in nine points and controlled four rebounds.
“I was pleased with the effort from our kids,” Barnett said. “They continued to fight and got it down to four or five a couple of times, but then Logan Elm hit a couple of threes and it was back to a seven or 10-point game again.
“Eli did a great job in the post on offense. When Eli catches it on the low box he is tough to stop. I also thought that Liam Sachs played well. He does a great job on the offensive end of moving and finding the open area. Defensively, he can guard a wing or post.”
Both teams are slated to hit the road on Saturday to continue league play, with the Braves taking on Liberty Union and the Vikings doing battle with Fairfield Union.
Note: Isaac Ward passed Tim Congrove (1,287 points) on the program’s all-time scoring list and currently has 1,306 points. He’s currently fourth overall on the list, trailing Dillon Young (1,332), Tyler Evans (1,589) and Ridge Young (1,798).
Logan Elm 61,
Teays Valley 48
TEAYS VALLEY — Garrett Meddock 2-3-7, Luke Sachs 1-0-2, Peyton Weiler 3-2-9, Eli Burgett 5-0-10, Camden Primmer 5-0-11, Liam Sachs 3-3-9. Three-point goals — Camden Primmer and Peyton Weiler. Total — 19-37 8-12 48.
LOGAN ELM — Isaac Ward 12-5-37, Jeremy Wietelmann 1-0-2, Braylen Baker 2-0-5, Jason Sailor 2-2-7, Gabe Chalfin 3-0-7, Tanner Holbert 1-0-3. Three-point goals — Isaac Ward (8), Braylen Baker, Jason Sailor, Gabe Chalfin and Tanner Holbert. Total — 21-43 7-8 61.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Teays Valley 14 10 12 12 48
Logan Elm 21 10 12 18 61
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