LOGAN, Ohio — Discipline in basketball isn’t always about running a set offense just to take the best shot or to extend a lead. Sometimes, to be properly disciplined as a team, it means keeping shots and mistakes to a minimum and protecting a lead.
After building a 17-point halftime advantage Friday night, that’s exactly what the Logan Chieftains were told to do by their coaches — work the ball and protect the lead — and they did it well.
“We may have some games down the line where we have to hold the ball,” Logan coach John Helber said after the Chiefs broke a five-game losing streak with a 51-38 Southeastern Ohio Athletic League victory over visiting Gallia Academy in Jim Myers Gymnasium.
“With our guards, I think we can do that,” he continued. “I thought they did a pretty decent job even though we hadn’t worked much on that in practice.”
Friday was as good a time as any to do that for the Chiefs (3-5 overall, 2-1 SEOAL), who not only broke a five-game losing streak but snapped the five-game streak of victories the Blue Devils (5-5, 1-2) had going for them when they got to Hocking County.
Gallipolis had averaged 62.8 points per game in beating Tolsia WV, Lincoln WV, Jackson, Meigs and Rock Hill. The Chiefs had scored just 42 per game in losses to Chesapeake, Unioto, Portsmouth, Bloom-Carroll and Columbus St. Charles.
Friday night, there was a good reason why the Chiefs could work the ball and be selective.
“Sometimes games are won and lost in one quarter,” first-year Gallipolis coach Gary Harrison said.
So true. The Chiefs went on a 17-0 run over the final 4:49 of the first half, and outscored the Blue Devils 26-7 in the second quarter, to overcome a sluggish start and take the lead for good.
Logan led 32-15 at halftime, and the Blue Devils never cut the deficit into single digits the rest of the night.
The Chiefs had a 5-0 run prior to a three-point bucket by the Blue Devils’ Wade Jarrell that tied the game at 15-15 with 5:26 left in the first half. So Logan’s overall run was actually 22-3 in breaking the game open.
Logan’s half-court trap created several scoring opportunities that helped the Chiefs pull away.
“They put the 1-2-2 half-court trap on us, and we just had no answer,” said Harrison. “We came down and threw it away three-straight times and they converted, then we missed two shots and they came back and scored.
“That second quarter just broke our back,” he added. “I tried different combinations to try and break out of it, and we just couldn’t do it.”
A triple out of the right corner by junior Chance Cox (a game-high 14 points) with 4:49 left put the Chiefs ahead for good and began the aforementioned 17-0 outburst.
After two Nick Kost three throws, senior point guard Joey Cottrill nailed a right-wing three-ball off a drive-and-kick from sophomore guard Lane Little, then Cottrill followed with a conventional three-point play when he drove the lane and got an and-one.
Kost scored off a backcourt steal and Kevin Fisher added a couple buckets off feeds from Cox and Cottrill as Logan opened its 32-15 halftime edge. The Chiefs were 9-of-14 from the field in the second quarter while Gallipolis misfired on its final 10 first-half shots.
“Chance is a fearless competitor,” Helber praised, “and when he’s not making shots it’s not a good time in practice because he’s a competitor and doesn’t like to miss shots. I was happy to see him hit a couple threes tonight and give us another outside scorer that we haven’t had the last couple weeks because his shots weren’t falling.”
Cox was the only Chieftain in twin digits, but Cottrill, Kost and Fisher all contributed eight and Evan DeLong added six.
In contrast to their 26 second-quarter points, the Chiefs only scored 25 in the other three periods. Gallipolis outscored Logan in the first and third quarters before both teams notched 10 in the final stanza.
Logan opened a 38-22 lead with 2:36 left in the third period before the Blue Devils went on a 6-0 run, with Wes Jarrell (a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double) making a nice cut under the basket and taking a feed from Reid Eastman (four assists) to begin the run and adding a layup off a Wade Jarrell feed to end it.
But Little nailed a three-pointer from the right of the key with 14 seconds left to make it 41-28 Logan heading into the fourth quarter, where the Purple & White ate up much of the clock by passing the ball in, out and around the Gallia Academy zone defense.
(It also helped the game end a little quicker. Tip-off for Friday night’s SEOAL tripleheader was moved up one hour so that people could catch some college football game that was being played Friday night in Florida).
“I thought we played the game we wanted to play tonight,” Helber stated. “In the second half (the Blue Devils) came out in that zone, and I didn’t want the kids just coming down and throwing up (three-point) shots. We were still up (by double figures), and I thought it was a good opportunity to work on the delay offense and make them come out and chase us a little bit.”
Sometimes the Chiefs went inside and scored — DeLong scored twice off the low block in the third period — and sometimes they weren’t successful and turned the ball over. But most of the time the Chiefs worked on something that might help them down the road… maybe when the two teams meet again five weeks from now in Gallia County.
“That’s what I was looking at. I like to spread the floor and hit the high post and look back-door, and we had that a couple times,” Helber said. “We got the ball to the hole — Evan DeLong did a nice job a couple times in that dead spot (in the Gallipolis zone) and hitting shots — but we wanted to work on holding the ball.”
Harrison lauded Helber and his coaching staff for making the move.
“The one quarter got us,” Harrison said. “We couldn’t make anything. A little of that comes from our youth. We’re young — we have three seniors — and it’s a good experience for us. I think we’re getting better and starting to learn some things.
“You don’t want to peak yet — you want to peak toward the end — and we’ve gotten some confidence” during the five-game winning streak, he added, “and I can’t take anything away from Logan tonight. They’re a good team, well-coached and well-disciplined. (Helber) did a good job adjusting.
“It all comes back to if we had had a better second quarter, then they wouldn’t have (been able to run the delay game). They got the lead and held (the ball). It was a good game for them (while) we just had a bad second quarter.”
Craig Dunn is the Sports Editor at the Logan Daily News in Logan Ohio.