LOGAN — Looks like the new Logan Chieftains may have learned a thing or two from their predecessors.
With the score tied and an inexperienced group of varsity players running a final-minute motion offense to work for the best shot, Nolan Robinette made a courageous step-through move to the basket and scored with 26 seconds left to break the deadlock.
His basket and a terrific defensive play on the other end by fellow senior Colten Castle ultimately helped power the Purple & White to a season-opening 50-47 triumph over Lancaster Tuesday night in Jim Myers Gymnasium.
“You have to be brave enough to take a shot in that situation,” Logan coach Chris Rider said. “Nolan had a layup and he took it.”
Playing for the first time without stalwarts Bo Myers, Caleb and Coby Bell, Layton Cassady, Wes Brooks and Landon Little wearing a Logan uniform, the new-look Chiefs came through in crunch time to deliver a victory that group of former Logan standouts would have been proud to have delivered themselves.
“I’m very proud of those guys,” said Rider, who is making the adjustments to an almost entirely-new varsity squad. “Being inexperienced (at the varsity level), I know they felt some pressure about how good we’ve been the last two or three years.
“You want to do well and show people you can play. That’s just a character thing,” he continued. “I think Chieftain Nation saw that you have a team that might be inexperienced but they play hard and fight to the end.”
The starting five, which consisted of three seniors (Justin Wolfe, Castle and Robinette) and two sophomores (Tegan Myers and Mason Frasure), all started their first-ever varsity game at the same time.
They, along with seniors Colton and Conner Ruff, junior Ian Frasure and sophomore Ashton Mahaffey, did Chieftain Nation proud Tuesday night.
A Myers once again led the Chiefs in scoring. This time, though, it wasn’t Bo, Logan’s all-time leading male scorer, but his younger cousin Tegan, who scored a career-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field.
Robinette added 10 — none bigger than his eventual game-winner — and Wolfe added seven points and 11 rebounds.
Wolfe and Myers are the lone holdovers from last year who played any kind of varsity minutes.
Neither team led by any more than six points in a game that was tied eight times and saw the lead change hands on seven different occasions Tuesday night.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad start for the Chiefs, who had a few shaky moments here and there but converted several tough plays, especially in the fourth quarter, to send Lancaster (0-2) to its second-straight loss to open the season.
Seniors Deven Savage and Tanner Roush netted 13 and 10 points, respectively, and fellow senior Jacob Davenport added nine for a Lancaster team that might have been just a bit more physical and just a bit more experienced. The Gales started four seniors and a sophomore.
“Lancaster’s a physical team and they (created) some mismatches of their own,” Rider said. “They did a good job trying to post some of our smaller guys. But our guys just fought. Wolfie and Robinette really took care of the boards and showed their athletic ability tonight. And the guards ran down a lot of things. It was a good team rebounding and defense game.
“That’s kind of who we are,” he added. “We’re going to make it tough on you on the offensive end and we’re going to try to not beat ourselves (the Chiefs only committed 12 turnovers, two more than the team averaged per game last season). We’re going to make you take a tough shot and we want to take care of the ball and just play smart basketball. These guys did a great job tonight.”
Logan broke a 39-39 tie early in the final period when Myers turned a mid-court steal into a tough layup and Ian Frasure followed by scoring on a difficult drive in the lane.
After Lancaster closed within 43-42, Mason Frasure came through with a hard-earned 3-point play, scoring on a drive through the lane, drawing a foul and netting the and-one free throw, but the Gales eventually fought back to draw even at 47-47 when Sam Finck (seven points, five rebounds and three steals) made a rebound bucket in the lane with 1:16 left.
Logan called time-out with 1:06 remaining and, upon getting the ball inbounds, proceeded to play its delay game.
The Chiefs did a great job protecting the ball and milking the clock before Robinette saw his opening, slashing off the left wing through a seam in the Lancaster defense and banking in the go-ahead bucket with 26 seconds left.
“We had talked about running our motion offense to run it down and take nothing but a layup,” Rider revealed. “They did a nice job of making Lancaster play (defense). The execution was there. There are some execution (issues) we need to work on, but that was one of the things we executed right tonight.”
“I really had to go out and do that for my team,” Robinette said after the game. “I felt like I was in the moment and I needed to take that shot.”
It was indeed a clutch moment. And there were a couple more to come.
With just under 10 seconds remaining, Castle — who had been named special mention Division II All-Ohio as a defensive back just a few hours earlier — stepped in front of a driving Cameron Roudabush just above the right low block and got set long enough to draw a charging foul. It was a defensive play Logan football coach Mike Eddy would have been proud of.
The Chiefs had trouble getting the ball inbounds and had to burn their final time-out, but Castle then successfully completed a long inbounds pass from the baseline to just beyond the half-court line to a leaping Robinette, who quickly got the ball to Mason Frasure, who was fouled with 6.7 seconds left. Frasure then netted the second of two FTs to make it 50-47.
The Gales quickly got the ball upcourt and Savage managed to launch a potential game-tying triple from about 35 feet out that hit the rim and bounced harmlessly away at the buzzer.
Myers scored seven points in the opening period as Logan took an early 9-5 lead. Lancaster rallied to go in front 21-19 late in the first half, but the Chiefs got a great hustle play from Colton Ruff in the final seconds to send the two teams to their respective locker rooms tied.
Ruff hit the floor to make a steal near midcourt and had the presence of mind to keep from rolling over — which would have resulted in a traveling violation — and then find a cutting Myers, who got behind the Lancaster defense for a game-tying layup with seven seconds left.
Myers tripled 16 seconds into the third stanza before Lancaster went on a quick 7-0 burst, with Owen Snyder and Davenport sandwiching two-pointers around a Savage trey, for a four-point lead, the Gales’ largest advantage of the evening.
But the Chiefs outscored the Gales 12-7 late in the quarter — five different Chiefs scored in that stretch, including a terrific tip-in by Wolfe — and took a slim 38-37 lead into what turned out to be an exciting final quarter.
Although Tegan Myers, like his cousin, is expected to be the team’s top scorer most nights, he’ll need help. Tuesday night, he got just enough.
“Any good team has two or three scorers and that’s something we’re going to have to try to develop throughout the year,” Rider said. “Tonight it was Tegan who had points and the rest of it came by committee... and if it has to be like that, so be it.
“I think everybody made big plays down the stretch,” he added, “so whether it’s by committee or whether it’s two or three scorers, we’ll have to see.”
Opening the season with a victory can’t help but be a significant boost of confidence for a team lacking in varsity experience, especially with Logan’s next three games — starting Friday night at Unioto — and six of their next seven being away from home.
“I think it’s real important for our players’ mindset,” agreed Rider. “They know the last couple years have been good, and they want to be good, too. For them to come out and show ‘hey, we can play, too,’ that’s big.”
“We’ve been working hard and I feel real confident in this season,” he said. “We have to come in here every day and keep working hard. I’m happy for my team tonight.”
Logan 50, Lancaster 47
Lancaster 5 16 16 10—47
Logan 9 12 17 12—50
LANCASTER 47 (0-2): Deven Savage 4 2-2 13, Dylan West 0, Cameron Roudabush 0, Sam Finck 3 1-1 7, Owen Snyder 2 2-2 6, Blake Snezik 1-0-2, Jacob Davenport 3 1-2 9, Tanner Roush 5-0-10. Totals 18 6-7 47. 3-pt FG: Savage 3, Davenport 2.
LOGAN 50 (1-0): Ashton Mahaffey 0 2-2 2, Mason Frasure 2 2-3 6, Tegan Myers 8 3-4 21, Ian Frasure 1-0-2, Colten Castle 1-0-2, Justin Wolfe 3 1-4 7, Nolan Robinette 4 2-4 10, Colton Ruff 0, Conner Ruff 0. Totals 19 10-17 50. 3-pt FG: Myers 2.
FG: Lancaster 18-43 (.419), Logan 19-41 (.464). 3-pt FG: Lancaster 5-17 (.294), Logan 2-14 (.143). FT: Lancaster 6-7 (.857), Logan 10-17 (.588). Rebounds: Lancaster 24 (Finck 5, Roush 5), Logan 27 (Wolfe 11). Assists: Lancaster 9 (West 3), Logan 7 (Myers 2). Steals: Lancaster 8 (Finck 3), Logan 6 (Myers 2). Turnovers: Lancaster 14, Logan 12. Fouls: Lancaster 17, Logan 11. JV: Lancaster 28, Logan 20. 9G: Logan 24, Lancaster 20.