Warriors exits: Warren falls to Logan Elm 61-45 in district final

ATHENS – The Logan Elm Braves lived up to their billing as the top seed as they eliminated the No. 2-seeded Warren Warriors 61-45 Saturday night at the Convocation Center on the campus of Ohio University to claim the Division II district championship and earn a trip to the state Sweet 16.

Outstanding defensive play by the Braves (23-2) kept the usually high scoring Warriors (21-3) out of sync for much of the game, while the Logan Elm offense failed to crack down the stretch as it pulled away to the 16-point victory.

“I think our guys just believed from the very beginning,” said Logan Elm head coach Doug Stiverson, whose team recovered from a slow start that saw them go scoreless for the first five minutes of the game. “We got off to a slow start but I felt our confidence was still there. We just kept playing and kept believing and the guys trusted in one another.”

The Warriors had a distinct height advantage over Logan Elm and early on it appeared that would weigh heavily in their favor as Evan French scored a pair of inside baskets and 6-foot-6 sophomore Michael Hall scored from inside the paint to make it 6-0.

Hall and Casey Tyler traded free throws to make it a 7-1 game before the Brave offense finally started to show some signs of life.

Dillon Young’s basket off of an assist from his brother Ridge cut the lead to four and Tyler followed by coming up with a steal and a basket at the other end to slice the lead to a pair.

Trent Congrove’s basket evened things up at 7-7 and less than a minute later the Elm senior scored once again to give the Braves their first lead of the game at 9-7.

Hall’s basket tied things at nine but Logan Elm senior Logan Thompson grabbed a rebound and put it back in just as the buzzer sounded to end the opening quarter to give the Braves back the lead that they would never relinquish again.

Thompson picked right up where he left off in the second eight minutes as he scored five points on a deuce and a triple in the opening minute to give Logan Elm a six-point cushion at 16-10.

The Braves were dealt a tough blow when Thompson went down with an injury late in the second quarter and was unable to return for the rest of the game.

Warren inched closer as it trimmed the lead to three as Andrew “Diesel” Drayer and Reece Patton scored consecutive buckets with assists from one another to make it 19-16 with 3:28 to play in the half.

Logan Elm used the long ball late in the half to carry a large amount of momentum into the halftime intermission.

Congrove’s long triple made it a six-point game and after Patton scored his second field goal of the quarter, Waylon Artrip, who came off the bench when Thompson left with the injury, buried a three to extend the Brave lead to 25-18 at halftime.

“We had different guys step up in big situations,” said Stiverson. “We have a guy (Thompson) go down and for Waylon (Artrip) to come in and play with the kind of confidence he did at both ends of the floor was just a huge lift.”

Both teams took care of the basketball in the first half as Logan Elm did not commit a single turnover, while the Warriors coughed up the rock three times.

Unfortunately that trend didn’t carry over for Warren in the third period as the LE defense forced the Warriors into six turnovers as it pulled out to a 12-point lead at 39-27.

The Warriors have proven time and time again over the last few years that their high powered offense is more than capable of rallying from a big deficit in a small amount of time, but they couldn’t seem to string together any kind of a run to take a chunk out of the Brave’s lead.

Warren did manage to carve the deficit to single digits with three minutes to play on a Andrew Henthorn layup, and minutes later trimmed the lead to 53-45 when District Player of the Year French connected from long range for three with 1:29 to play in the game.

That would prove to be the last time the Warriors would get on the scoreboard as Logan Elm finished things off by canning six-of-eight freebies in the final minute to punch their ticket to the “Sweet 16.”

Warren head coach Blane Maddox felt his team struggled to find any kind of consistency in the game.

“I thought we had a lot of good looks in the first half and just couldn’t knock them down,” said Maddox, who led his team to the state final four last season. “The third quarter we got down and had to scramble and we just weren’t able to play our best ball game.”

Dillon Young led all scorers with 19 points in the game while Congrove finished with 13.

French, who finished his Warrior career with the most points scored in school history, paced the royal blue and white with 15 points while Hall completed a double-double with 12 rebounds and 11 points.

“We knew coming in it was going to be a tough game and they (Logan Elm) just executed better than we did,” said French, who will play his collegiate ball next year at West Liberty. “They were playing great defense and were able to get out on us and keep us from getting good looks.”

Logan Elm will now set its sights at advancing to the Elite 8 when it takes on Bishop Watterson Thursday night at the Convo, while the season comes to a close for arguably the most successful senior class in Warren basketball history.

“I’m still very proud of these guys and all the accomplishments they made through their careers and what great memories they made,” said Maddox. “Nobody is going to remember these guys for their last game but how they brought a community together. It’s hard to be sad when every memory I can think of these guys is a great one.”

Maddox was grateful for the outstanding support of the Barlow-Vincent community as over 1300 fans dressed in blue packed the stands at the Convo.

“We’re very proud of our fans and their support,” said Maddox.

“They have supported us for years even when we weren’t making trips to the state, and they were here again tonight.”