by JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
Defense set the early tone Tuesday night and Logan Elm got enough of its offense going to take down rival Circleville 40-25.
“This is one of the biggest games of the year and it’s always a big confidence booster when you beat the team on the other side of town,” said LE junior Braylen Baker, who had a game-high 21 points.
In what started as a defensive struggle, Baker had LE’s first 13 points through the mid point of the second quarter.
“I noticed they were pressuring Tanner (Holbert) a lot more and keeping him from getting the ball and I knew I had to step up in a big role and take action,” Baker said.
As the first quarter was coming to a close, Baker got a steal near mid-court and hit a three-pointer with two seconds left to give his team a 7-4 lead.
“I was just feeling confident at the time,” Baker said. “I saw the shot that I could take and that we were coming down to the wire. I was feeling it, so I just took the shot.”
“Braylen came out and played extremely well. He’s been playing really well and taking advantage of some opportunities offensively,” LE coach Doug Stiverson said. “We need that combination of him and Tanner scoring.
“Braylen was so good defensively tonight, too. He guarded (Craig) Fleck tonight and did a really good job defensively. We were asking him to do a lot of things.”
When Baker scored the basket to give him 13, it also put the Braves up 13-11 and LE never trailed again.
Holbert then got in on the action as he scored the final eight points for the Braves around a three-pointer from Circleville’s Trevor Coleman to put LE up 21-14 at the half.
Another low-scoring quarter had Logan Elm up 27-19 entering the final period.
Two baskets from Baker and a three-point play from Holbert gave LE a 34-19 lead a little more than two minutes into the quarter and Circleville was unable to get the difference back to single digits the rest of the way.
“Both teams came out with a lot of intensity, especially on the defensive end. I think the emotions of the game, the rivalry kind of caught up with some of the guys and maybe they missed some shots that maybe they make,” Stiverson said. “Then both teams settled down and our defense was just consistent throughout the night and made things really tough on them.”
The Braves forced Circleville into nine first quarter turnovers and 22 for the game.
“Our guys were extremely locked in and active defensively. We got a lot of deflections and tipped balls, and then we were able to come up with them,” Stiverson said. “Our guys were recognizing things and really focused on what they needed to do defensively. It helped get us going a little bit offensively, as well.”
“I thought our effort was there but we made a lot of mistakes. That first quarter we got lucky. They were missing some shots they didn’t miss in the second half,” Circleville coach Cody Carpenter said. “We played hard and held them to 40 points. They haven’t been held under 50, maybe one game.
“Defensively, we’ve done some good things, at least with our effort. We’re making too many mistakes and, eventually, teams are making us pay. We’re struggling to put the ball in the hole.”
Along with Baker’s 21, Holbert ended the night with 13.
Circleville had seven players score with Briley Cramer leading the way with seven.
“They talk about defense wins games, but you’ve got to be able to score,” Carpenter said. “Right now the effort is there but we’ve got to clean up a lot of mental errors. I think once we do that we’re going to get to where we want to be, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Both teams ended the night with 26 rebounds. Fleck led Circleville with eight while Baker and Drew Tomlinson each had seven for LE.
Logan Elm (4-1, 2-1) travels to Liberty Union Saturday while the Tigers (2-4, 0-3) are home with Amanda-Clearcreek.
Logan Elm 40, Circleville 25
Cirleville — Briley Cramer 3-1-7, Trevor Coleman 2-0-5, Winston Jones 2-0-5, Preston Hulse 1-0-2, Ian Warden 1-0-2, Craig Fleck 1-2-4. Three-point goals — Coleman, Jones. Total — 10-28 3-4 25.
Logan Elm — Braylen Baker 10-0-21, Ne’miah Waugh 1-2-4, Garret Summers 1-0-2, Tanner Holbert 4-3-13. Total — 16-47 5-7 40.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Circleville 4 10 5 6 25
Logan Elm 7 14 6 13 40