By Brad Morris
The experience of Logan Elm paid off in crunch time on Saturday as it was able to grind out a 47-45 Mid-State League Buckeye Division win over host Liberty Union.
Logan Elm (13-1, 11-1) clinched at least a share of its first Mid-State League Buckeye Division championship since 2016 with the win and can claim the honor outright with a victory on Tuesday at Hamilton Township, weather permitting.
Isaac Ward paced the Braves with 13 points, Jeremy Wietelmann was an effective 3 of 5 (60 percent) from the field and finished with 11 points and Jason Sailor had five of his eight points during the critical final period of play.
Trailing the Lions 37-36 with approximately five minutes remaining, Ward dished to Sailor in the right corner for a triple that put the Braves ahead to stay.
On their next possession, the Braves were able to drain nearly two minutes off the clock and shorten the game before Ward made a move to his left to get around the defender and go in for a layup that put the Braves ahead 41-37 with 2:41 remaining.
“Our guys did a nice job of controlling the tempo and working the clock when Jason hit that big three to give us the lead,” Logan Elm coach Doug Stiverson said. “We did a nice job of spreading the floor, being patient and working for good shots.”
The Braves only attempted five shots in the fourth quarter and hit four of them.
After a pair of free throws by Liberty Union’s Jack Brown, the Braves bled another 45 seconds off the clock. Wietelmann hit a cutting Gabe Chalfin on an inbound pass for a layup to make it a two possession game again.
The Lions (9-9, 6-5) cut it down to a pair of points twice on a drive to the basket by Brown and a pair of free throws by Ty Boggs, but the Braves countered with a layup from Sailor and two free throws by Ward with 11.2 seconds left to make it 47-43.
Jacob Denney putback a missed shot in the closing seconds for the Lions, but it wasn’t enough as the Braves left Baltimore with a hard-fought season sweep of Liberty Union. The Braves edged the Lions 71-69 last month in a double-overtime classic.
“We did a nice job of guarding Liberty Union’s post players and getting in good position early before one of their post players got the basketball,” Stiverson said. “Gabe Chalfin and Tanner Holbert stepped up and did a nice job.”
The Braves trailed by as many as eight points during the first quarter before trimming their deficit to 18-13 at the end of the period and went into halftime trailing 23-22.
“Liberty Union was hot to start the game, hitting a couple of threes and they got out to an early lead,” Stiverson said. “Our guys did a nice job of staying with it and we were able to make a couple of adjustments on defense to make it a one-point game going into halftime.
“Jeremy Wietelmann really had a big first half for us, hitting three threes, that kept us in the game early when Liberty Union got off to that good start.”
Two free throws early in the third quarter from Wietelmann gave the Braves their first lead of the night at 24-23.
The Braves eventually extended their lead to as many as seven points during the period, thanks in part to a three-pointer from Sailor and Ward dishing to Chalfin for a nifty layup.
Kalib Riddle paced the Lions with 13 points and Jacob Berlekamp added nine. Both players were held scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Logan Elm 47,
Liberty Union 45
LOGAN ELM — Jeremy Wietelmann 3-2-11, Isaac Ward 5-2-13, Braylen Baker 2-0-5, Jason Sailor 3-0-8, Trace Smith 1-0-2, Gabe Chalfin 2-0-4, Tanner Holbert 0-4-4. Three-point goals — Jeremy Wietelmann (3), Jason Sailor (2), Isaac Ward and Braylen Baker. Total — 16 8-9 47.
LIBERTY UNION — Braden Shook 2-0-4, Ty Boggs 3-0-6, Jack Brown 1-2-4, Jacob Denney 3-0-6, Jacob Berlekamp 3-1-9, Cam Manson 1-0-3, Kalib Riddle 4-4-13. Three-point goals — Jacob Berlekamp (2), Kalib Riddle and Cam Manson. Total — 17 7-9 45.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Logan Elm 13 9 14 11 47
Liberty Union 18 5 12 10 45
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