February 26, 2015

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – A middle-of-the-pack team in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference, the Lincoln Trail Statesmen have inexplicably been the better team when squaring off with John A. Logan College this season.

The boys from Robinson (only 7-7 in the conference and a subpar 13-15 overall) upset the league champion Volunteers (13-3, 23-6) Wednesday evening, 95-91.

It marks the second time the Statesmen have beaten Logan this season (the Vols lost 83-78 on the road, Jan. 21) and the second time they have beaten the Vols immediately after Logan cracked the Top 25 in the national rankings.

“We can’t come out and have a lackluster approach like we did tonight and expect to win,” said Vols head coach Kyle Smithpeters. “I’ll take the blame on this one. I probably didn’t put enough of an emphasis on the importance of this game. I think maybe we were looking too far ahead to next week and the District Tournament. That’s on me. We still want to win this game and Saturday’s game at Shawnee for pride if nothing else.”

Logan enjoyed a brief 12-point lead late in the first half, but the sharpshooting of Statesmen guard, Aaron Siler, whittled that lead down to nothing by intermission. Siler knocked down 5-of-7 shots from beyond the arc for 17 points and knotted the score at 41 going into the break. Siler would finish with 24 points.

Again, Logan responded, building another 12-point lead in the second half. But Lincoln Trail refused to quit. This time, it was post player Daryl Baker, who provided the dagger, tallying 20 of his 27 points over the final 20 minutes.

Had the Vols been able to hit their free throws, they could have warded off the onslaught, but instead missed 19 attempts from the line (24-of-43 for 56 percent).

“That’s just a lack of concentration,” Smithpeters said.

Logan was led in scoring by Russell Woods with 18 points. Martavian Payne followed with 17 and A.J. Riley added 11. Devontavius Payne and Tyler Scott contributed nine points. Ranell Crossland netted eight. Connor Wheeler flipped in seven and Jordan Martin had six.

The Statesmen converted 33-of-56 shots from the field (59 percent) and the Vols made good on 30-of-54 attempts (56 percent).

“Maybe this loss will open our eyes a little bit and make us realize that we are not invincible,” Smithpeters said. “We still have to play hard and well to win games in the tournament.”

Logan concludes the regular season at 3 p.m. Saturday at Shawnee.