Logan Elm’s Holbert to play for Muskingum

By Brad Morris


Normally, when a university is recruiting a young man they come out to watch him play.

What made Muskingum University stand out to Tanner Holbert was they came to support him while he was not playing due to a broken ankle that cost the Logan Elm guard his senior season.

“I looked at a bunch of schools and had it down to a final four, but what made Muskingum stand out to me was they were always texting me after my surgeries to see how I was doing and how my recovery was going and then they even came to some of our games that I wasn’t playing in,” Holbert said. “I felt like they went the extra mile for me, and Muskingum felt like home right away.”

Holbert made it official late last week by deciding to play at Muskingum, an NCAA Division III institution located in New Concord.

Holbert is excited to be part of the first recruiting class of head coach Nathan Wahle, who was previously an assistant coach at Wittenberg when Logan Elm graduate Ridge Young played for him.

“Coach Wahle wants to build a good program at Muskingum and I am excited to be part of his first recruiting class,” Holbert said. “I know Coach Wahle from when he coached Ridge at Wittenberg. Coach Wahle was looking for a shooter, especially someone who can hit threes, in this class, and I should be able to go over to Muskingum and play right away.”

Logan Elm senior Tanner Holbert has decided to play basketball for Muskingum University, an NCAA Division III institution. Tanner is seated with his parents Jeff and Michelle Holbert and his brother Jonathan Holbert. Standing are Logan Elm assistant coach Nate Dropsey, retired Logan Elm coach Doug Stiverson, Logan Elm principal Nate Smith and Logan Elm athletic director Eric Karshner. Photo courtesy of Todd Tomlinson/Logan Elm High School.

Wahle is definitely getting a scorer in Holbert, who averaged 20.3 points per game as a junior in earning first-team Mid-State League Buckeye Division and Southeast District honors along with being named special mention All-Ohio.

Holbert shot 43 percent from three-point range as a sophomore when the Braves won the league championship and 38 percent in his junior campaign as he became the focal point of the offense following the graduation of Isaac Ward and Gabe Chalfin.

“When I played during my sophomore year, I was basically just a three-point shooter because that’s what the team needed from me and we had some other scorers on the floor like Isaac and Gabe leading the way,” Holbert said. “My junior season was challenging, because I had to step up and lead the offense and teams were game planning more against me.

“I not only had to create shots for myself and be a leader, but I also had to create shots for my teammates. Once I got into a flow during my junior season, things felt more natural to me, but I definitely learned some things as a junior that I wanted to improve on for my senior season.”

Holbert has worked out with Young and Ward in addition to a regiment that included making 500 shots a day during the past two summers. In addition to practice during the season, Holbert came in for between 45 minutes to an hour daily before school to work on his shooting with assistant coach Nate Dropsey.

“Teams were obviously trying to take away the three from me during my junior season, so I put in a lot of work to become a three-level scorer, being able to take the ball to the basket, developing a midrange game and still hitting the three,” Holbert said. “I felt really good about my game going into my last year at Logan Elm.”

Logan Elm’s Tanner Holbert earned first-team Mid-State League Buckeye Division and Southeast District honors as a junior and was named special mention All-Ohio.

Holbert enjoyed the fall playing wide receiver and defensive back on the gridiron for the Braves, who turned in their best season since 2014. The Braves went 8-3, finished second in the MSL-Buckeye behind eventual Division III state runner-up Bloom-Carroll, claimed the Pickaway County championship and earned a home playoff game.

“Our football season was really cool, because we struggled during our junior season but put everything together this year and had a pretty good season,” Holbert said. “We’re all good friends and we hang out a lot during the summer, went to some 7-on-7s and we really built a lot of chemistry. We did some things this season that had not been done for a while at Logan Elm.”

Holbert earned second-team all-league and special mention all-district honors for his performance. Unfortunately, Holbert’s senior season was derailed in Week 9 when he broke his ankle in a 41-7 win at Amanda-Clearcreek, becoming a member of one of the few senior classes at Logan Elm that won both of their games in the hallowed Pit.

“I was coming up to make a play on the running back, slipped and then a lineman fell on me and I broke my ankle,” Holbert said.

Tanner Holbert made a pair of interceptions against archrival Circleville this past fall in helping the Braves to a 21-0 win in the Backyard Brawl.

Holbert had the ankle surgically repaired but had to have a pair of follow up procedures that ultimately cost him his senior season.

He started senior night against Amanda-Clearcreek and received a nice ovation from the Logan Elm faithful in attendance before coming off the Spangler Memorial Gymnasium hardwood for the final time.

“I’m starting to shoot free throws right now and lifting some weights,” Holbert said of his recovery process. “In a couple of weeks, I’ll be able to get back to shooting and start to prepare for attending workouts at Muskingum.”

Now retired Logan Elm coach Doug Stiverson was pleased with Holbert’s decision and believes his game will transition well to Muskingum.

“I’m very happy and proud for Tanner to be able to continue his academic and athletic career at Muskingum University,” he said. “The Ohio Athletic Conference is one of the premier leagues in Division III.

“Tanner has worked extremely hard to get this opportunity. I’m looking forward to Tanner getting back to being 100 percent healthy and watching him develop and play at the next level. Tanner is one of the best shooters that we have had at Logan Elm. His ability to shoot the basketball, especially from the three-point line, is going to allow him to play very soon.”

Logan Elm’s Tanner Holbert knocks down a three-pointer during his sophomore season.

The Braves won a district championship during Holbert’s freshman season, a league title when he was a sophomore and qualified for the district tournament when he led the team as a junior to a 15-win campaign.

Logan Elm was expected to be a league and district championship contender this season but was without three-fifths of its projected starting lineup for most of the season.

“This season was tough, obviously, but I was proud of the way my teammates and the coaches competed through all the adversity we faced to still win nine games,” Holbert said. “Ultimately, I’m thankful to have been part of this program and being able to follow my favorite players that I looked up to growing up and playing myself.

“I’ve been coming to practices since I was five years old with my dad. Being able to play for Doug Stiverson, who I consider the best coach in Ohio, was amazing and all the good times we had together. We won a lot of games, but what I’m going to remember is all the cool memories we had of hanging out together, having fun and all of the things my teammates and I did off-the-floor. That’s what makes being a Logan Elm basketball player so special.”

Logan Elm’s Tanner Holbert cuts down a piece of the sectional championship net after scoring 30 points against Hillsboro in his junior season.

Holbert will now prepare to make the transition from Brave to Muskie, and major in education.

“I’m excited for what’s next, helping to build the basketball program at Muskingum, getting to play for Coach Wahle and making Muskingum a solid team in the OAC, which is a tough conference,” Holbert said. “I’m going to major in education, because I want to teach kids with special needs, like my dad does, and I want to eventually become a college or high school coach.”

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