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By Craig Dunn
LOGAN — Even on the occasion of his milestone 400th career coaching victory, Chris Rider was thinking of his Logan Chieftains in general and of his seniors in particular.
“If you want to pick one night to win one game out of 22 games, it’s Senior Night,” Rider said after the Chiefs defeated Logan High School graduate Doug Stiverson’s Logan Elm Braves 39-26 Tuesday night in Jim Myers Gymnasium, “because those guys have come up through the program.
“I can remember watching them play in seventh grade. That’s a pretty good feeling to get those guys a win,” he added.
In what’s been a difficult season for both the Chiefs (3-17) and the Braves (7-13), both of whom have had to deal with a slew of injuries, both no doubt saw the other as an opportunity for victory.
And, in what was the low-scoring game pretty much everyone expected (Logan Elm lost a game to Liberty Union 23-22 in OT earlier in the season, for example), the Braves did a good job limiting the Chiefs on offense for the longest time and drew even at 24-24 on an Aiden Williams three-ball with 6:55 remaining.
But then the Chiefs did something that’s been uncharacteristic for them this season: they starting hitting shots. A lot of them. Consecutively.
Three nights after scoring six points in the middle two quarters on 2-of-29 shooting in a 59-31 loss at Unioto, the Chiefs finished Tuesday’s game on a 7-of-7 run from the field, with senior Cayden Alford getting four of them, for a 15-0 scoring string to break the contest wide open.
At the same time, the Braves misfired on seven-consecutive attempts from the floor of their own and finished the game 11-of-43 (25.6 percent) in all and just 2-of-21 (under 10 percent) from beyond the three-point arc.
Logan was a respectful 16-of-37 (43.2 percent) from the floor and committed only seven turnovers, by far a season low.
“It’s the difference of one team making shots and the other team not,” Stiverson surmised. “I thought the first half we did a really good job of rebounding and keeping them off the boards for as big as they are. The second half they shot it a lot better than we did, and that was the difference in the game.”
The Braves, who have played most of their season without three starters, entered the game averaging just 39 points per game. The Chiefs were scoring at a 36.3 clip.
“Our kids are going to fight and I’m extremely proud of our kids the way they’ve hung in there,” Stiverson praised. “We’re not a team that’s going to catch up. We have to hopefully get the lead or stay right there in touch and tonight we weren’t able to do that, especially there late in the fourth quarter.”
Another difference in Tuesday’s game was that the Chiefs, trailing 15-12 at halftime — the Braves scored seven of the last 10 points of the second stanza to take the lead at the intermission — went to their secret weapon in the second half that limited the Braves to just 11 points the rest of the way.
“I kind of went with (Hall of Fame college coach) Bob Huggins’ philosophy: he always saved his 1-3-1 (zone) for the second half, and that’s what we did,” Rider said. “We brought that out with (Simon) Pierce (on top) and that was the difference.”
“I thought we played a pretty good first half. We moved the ball pretty well and defensively we were pretty active in our zone and took them out of some things that they wanted to do,” Stiverson said. “We just got cold in the third quarter and the difference was their 1-3-1 zone. Their length and their 1-3-1 made it really difficult on us.
“That’s not something you see very often,” he continued. “Obviously we didn’t adjust to it really well, but again I think that had a lot to do with their length and we had to switch up and play some man. Then they really pounded us in the post and used their height and Alford to really hurt us in the second half.”
Alford, who had his second-consecutive double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) became the Chiefs’ focal point inside against a Logan Elm team whose tallest players are listed at 6-1.
On Senior Night, the Chiefs started five of their six seniors — Alford (6-6), Pierce (6-6 with a long wingspan), Matt Richards (6-3), Andrew Krantz (6-2) and Max Black (5-11) — and brought in senior Jacob Burke (6-4) as the sixth man.
“We got the ball inside,” Rider said. “Give coach (John) Teal credit. Cayden was turning to the baseline and coach Teal got him aside and told him to take it to the middle. Cayden started turning to the middle and I don’t know if he missed a shot in the fourth quarter.”
“And the 1-3-1 stops penetration,” Rider pointed out. “It’s hard to play against and Pierce is made for that 1-3-1 out on top.”
Pierce made it difficult for the smaller Braves to pass around him or over the top, and most of their shots in the second half were forced.
This being a game in which every point was meaningful, Logan overtook the Braves with a 7-0 run early in the third period, with Pierce scoring five and Alford scoring on a backdoor cut and Pierce helper, only to see Nemiah Waugh (13 points, four rebounds), the Braves’ biggest scoring threat, drain a triple and Carson Summers make a free throw to again even things up.
Black splashed a triple with 4:15 left in third period and followed with a tough jumper in the lane for a five-point lead, but a Waugh bucket late in the third period and Williams’s three-ball early in the fourth pulled LE even again at 24-24 early in the final stanza.
Alford put the Chiefs in front for good by powering his way to the basket off the block and then making a hook shot in the lane. Pierce scored in the lane and Jackson Stimmel rained in a three off the wing as the Chiefs began to pull away, with Alford then scoring twice to make it 37-24 with 2:19 left and Kohen Maynard adding a layup with 33 seconds left to put a bow on that 15-0 run.
Now in his 32nd season as a head coach — 15 years at Reynoldsburg, 10 at Maysville (in two different stints) and now in his seventh at Logan — Rider now has an all-time coaching record of 400-254, including 72-75 at Logan.
“It’s just a number,” Rider said, “but then you look back on your career, 32 years as a head coach, 400 wins… you never think about that going in. I’m just pretty lucky to get that.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about the kids I’ve coached and how I’ve been lucky with the coaching staffs at Maysville, Reynoldsburg and now here at Logan,” he added. “At all three of those places I’ve also made tremendous friends. That’s how you stay in coaching, working with great kids and coaches.”
And the Chiefs face another LHS graduate who’s had great coaching success over the years in their home finale on Friday.
Blane Maddox picked up his 399th coaching win in an 83-72 victory Tuesday night at Cambridge. The Warriors come to town for their regular season finale at 15-6, including a 47-35 home win over the Chiefs back in December.
And Stiverson isn’t too far from joining them, probably in a season or so, with or around 400 career wins.
“I was kidding around with some of those (Logan Elm) guys about their injuries and told them you’re probably the only team that’s had more injuries than we have,” Rider said. “Doug does a good job with those guys. For them to lose all that firepower (probably 40 points’ per game worth of injured players) and for them to be competitive, that’s a pretty good coaching job.”
Friends and family were out in full force Tuesday night, which is pretty much the case anytime Logan Elm visits Jim Myers Gymnasium — the facility named for Doug’s coaching mentor — be it a regular season game against Logan or a Southeast District D2 tournament contest.
“It’s always fun to come back to Logan,” Stiverson said. “We’ve had some good memories. I personally (as a player for the Chieftains) have some good memories, not in this gym per se, but here in the tournament with my teams. We’ve had some good runs and good success here.
“And to come back and see some familiar faces, to see people you haven’t seen in a long time, that’s always fun,” he added. “I get to coach against my cousin (junior varsity coach/varsity assistant) Pat Walsh, and I’ve known (varsity assistant and LHS alum) Rich Bell for a long, long time. It’s good to come home… I just wish we would have won.”
Logan 39, Logan Elm 26
LOGAN ELM 26 (7-13) — Gavin Griffey 1-0-2, Drew Tomlinson 3-0-6, Nemiah Waugh 6 0-1 13, Carson Summers 0 1-2 1, Aiden Williams 1 1-2 4, Keegan Diehl 0. Totals 11 2-5 26. 3-pt FG: Waugh, Williams.
LOGAN 39 (3-17) — Jackson Stimmel 1-0-3, Kohen Maynard 1-0-2, Jacob Burke 0, Owen Bell 1-0-2, Max Black 3 1-2 9, Simon Pierce 3 3-4 9, Matt Richards 0, Andrew Krantz 0, Cayden Alford 7 0-2 14. Totals 16 4-8 39. 3-pt FG: Black 2, Stimmel.
FG: LE 11-43 (.256), Logan 16-37 (.432). 3-pt FG: LE 2-21 (.095), Logan 3-10 (.300). FT: LE 2-5 (.400), Logan 4-8 (.500). Rebounds: LE 27 (Williams 5, Diehl 5, Griffey, Tomlinson and Waugh 4 each), Logan 27 (Alford 10, Maynard 3, Pierce 3). Assists: LE 5 (Griffey 2), Logan 8 (Burke 2, Pierce 2). Steals: LE 5 (Tomlinson 2), Logan 2. Turnovers: LE 9, Logan 7. Fouls: LE 9, Logan 10. JV: LE 50, Logan 44, 2OT.