By Brad Morris
It would only be human if you were a player, coach or parent of a Logan Elm Brave to ask the question what if at some point this season?
What if the Braves did not have to play large stretches of this season without four of their top seven players, including missing their top two returning scorers in senior guard Tanner Holbert and senior forward Braylen Baker, who combined for 31.9 points per game last season?
Holbert has missed the entire season due to an injury suffered in Week 9 of the football season, while Baker was lost for the season after just four games. Junior forward Brody Sabine showed promise following his return from a broken hand in early January, averaging 10.5 points, before suffering the same injury again after playing eight games.
The answer to that what if question would have likely led the Braves to being a leading contender to win the Mid-State League Buckeye Division and Division II Southeast District championships.
Instead of dwelling on what could have been, the Braves have answered that what if question with dogged perseverance and effort, which has to make those clad in the red-and-white of Logan Elm proud of their boys basketball team.
The Braves showed off more of that perseverance and effort on Friday, while honoring their senior class with a 37-27 Mid-State League Buckeye Division win over visiting Amanda-Clearcreek.
Logan Elm started its four seniors — post player Gavin Griffey (six rebounds) and guard Drew Tomlinson (four points, five rebounds), along with being able to honor both Holbert and Baker, who played the first few seconds before leaving the floor to a well-deserved ovation and hugs shared with teammates and coaches.
“It was great to be able to start our four seniors on senior night and be able to honor them and how much they have meant to our program over the years and especially this season with all the adversity they have faced,” Logan Elm coach Doug Stiverson said. “Our senior class is very close and I know that moment especially meant a lot to them, their parents and to us as coaches.
“Drew and Gavin set the tone for the rest of the team with how hard they compete. They have accepted larger roles and have given us everything they have. It’s been a tough season for both Tanner and Braylen, but they are still here supporting their teammates and doing everything they can. They’ve shown the type of guys they are, and I am proud of them along with the rest of our guys.”
Alden Williams paced the Braves with 12 points and also chipped in six rebounds and three assists. Carson Summers followed with eight points and four rebounds, Nemiah Waugh had seven points and six rebounds and Gage Arnett contributed six points and three assists.
Waugh scored the only basket of the first quarter on a triple from the left wing with 1:30 remaining in the period, staking the Braves to a 3-0 lead.
Logan Elm started to heat up in the second quarter, scoring on its first five possessions and extending its lead to 16-2.
Arnett drained a pair of free throws to start the run and later fed Summers for a transition layup off a turnover. Williams drained a pair of three-pointers and Arnett connected on a triple of his own.
Tucker Shamblin scored the first basket for the Aces on a drive off the right baseline with 5:47 remaining before halftime and finished the quarter with five points.
Tomlinson capped the first half for the Braves by navigating his way down the lane and hitting a runner to send the Braves into halftime with an 18-6 lead.
“It all started on the defensive end with being locked in, creating some transition opportunities and that led to our guys starting to knock down some shots on the other end of the floor,” Stiverson said. “We had different guys step up at different times.
“Alden hit a couple of nice threes there, and then we were able to get Gage, Drew and Carson to the basket at different times.”
Back-to-back baskets to open the fourth quarter by Shamblin, the second of which he turned into an old-fashioned three-point play, cut the Braves’ lead to 26-21. The A-C senior guard later hit three of four free throws to cut the deficit back down to five again, at 29-24, with 3:23 remaining.
That’s as close as the Aces were able to come, thanks in part to Summers knocking down a pair of clutch threes from the wings, followed by Williams, Waugh and Arnett contributing six free throws over the final two minutes and 50 seconds.
“Amanda was making a little bit of a run there and Carson stepped up and hit two big threes that stemmed the momentum they had and gave it back to us,” Stiverson said.
Shamblin poured in a game-high 15 points for the Aces (2-20, 0-14), 10 of which were scored in the second half.
“Shamblin’s had a real nice season for Amanda and can really score the basketball,” Stiverson said. “I felt like we did a nice job defensively of contesting everything and making him work hard for those 15 points he did score.”
The Braves (8-13, 5-9) finish the regular-season this afternoon when they host Frontier Athletic Conference champion Washington Court House (17-4), which is also the top-seed in the upcoming district tournament.
Stiverson reflected on closing the regular-season and getting ready to host a sectional quarterfinal a week from today against McClain (5-16).
“I’m proud of our guys, because they’ve faced a lot of adversity this season but they have continued to battle and have given us every thing that they have,” he said. “We’ve had to move guys around into different roles and they have accepted those roles and are doing everything they can.
“Our key has been hanging around, playing good defense and being able to put together enough spurts offensively, like we did tonight, against Amanda.”
Logan Elm 37,
AMANDA-CLEARCREEK — Tucker Shamblin 5-4-15, Brady Holbrook 1-0-3, Brody Elder 2-0-5, Tanner Rose 1-0-3. Three-point goals — Shamblin, Holbrook, Elder and Rose. Total — 9-36 5-16 27.
LOGAN ELM — Drew Tomlinson 1-2-4, Gage Arnett 1-3-6, Carson Summers 3-0-8, Alden Williams 3-4-12, Nemiah Waugh 1-4-7. Three-point goals — Williams (2), Summers (2), Waugh and Arnett. Total — 9-31 13-20 37.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Am-Clearcreek 0 6 10 11 27
Logan Elm 3 15 8 11 37