November 6, 2014

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – The John A. Logan College men’s basketball team withstood a fierce rally from visiting Mineral Area Wednesday, breaking a tie late and defeating the Cardinals, 89-81, in non-conference play.

Sophomore guard Martavian Payne, who struggled early in the game with his shot, found the range when the game was on the line, nailing three key jumpers and a couple of free throws to ward off the previously unbeaten Cardinals.

Payne’s heroics came in the final four minutes of the game, keeping the Vols just one step ahead of Mineral Area.

With the win, the Volunteers improve to 3-0, while the team from Park Hills, Mo. falls to 3-1.

“That’s a very good basketball team we just played,” said Logan head coach Kyle Smithpeters. “I don’t know if we’ll see a team that shoots the ball as well from three as they do (10-of-25 or 40 percent). It seemed like their shots were going in left and right there for a while.

“We couldn’t pull away from them, but that’s what good teams do,” Smithpeters said. “They stayed in it, but then we showed our resilience down the stretch, making the shots that we had to make to win the game. We never buckled under to their pressure. As for Tae, well, we’re sure going to miss having him around next year. He’s helped carry us to a lot of wins these last two seasons.”

The Vols led by 12 late in the first half, but a desperation heave by Anthony Virdure cut Logan’s lead to nine at 48-39 and sparked the visitors going into intermission.

Virdure, who scored 22 points in the first half, was held to two points over the final 20 minutes. Teammate Greg Tucker picked up where Virdure left off, leading the Cardinals in scoring with 25 points.

The Vols were led by sophomore center Russell Woods’ 18 points. The Chicago Simeon grad was a perfect 8-of-8 from the field and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed six rebounds. Payne finished with 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting overall.

Another Payne, freshman guard Devontavius Payne of Carbondale, followed with 14 points on 6-of-8 sniping from the field and another freshman, Ranell Crossland, contributed 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting. As a team, the Vols scorched the nets at a 60 percent clip (33-of-55). They were solid from long range (7-of-16 for 44 percent) and adequate from the line (16-of-23 or 70 percent).

The Vols also won the rebounding battle 29-to-24. Logan only turned the ball over 10 times, including just three in the second half.

“I’m very confident in the guys we have out there on the floor, including our freshmen, and I don’t think 10 turnovers or less is an unrealistic goal for us,” Smithpeters said. “We hold ourselves to a higher level of accountability. We have a group of guys that can shoot, rebound and handle the basketball.”

Not in double figures, but helping out the cause for Logan were: A.J. Riley (7 points), Justin Lukens (5), Tyler Scott (5), Jordan Martin (4), Connor Wheeler (4) and Tamas Bruce (2).

Logan plays at Western Kentucky Tech at 3 p.m. Saturday in Paducah. Next home game is Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 3 p.m. against Southeastern Illinois.