February 28, 2015

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

ULLIN – After being upset at home Wednesday by Lincoln Trail, the John A. Logan College men’s basketball team bounced back with a vengeance Saturday, romping past host Shawnee, 92-69, to close out the regular season.

The Volunteers improve to 24-6 overall. The Saints fall to 13-16.

Whereas five players reached double-figure scoring for Logan, it was the defense that brought a smile to the face of Vols’ head coach, Kyle Smithpeters.

“This (kind of effort) is what we try to pride ourselves on,” he said. “There is no excuse for the last two games defensively. We were giving up 93 ½ points a game because we weren’t playing hard enough. Tonight, we kind of jammed the basketball, got in their face, and denied the passing lanes. That’s a good basketball team that we held to 69 points. I was really proud of our effort.”

Sophomores Martavian Payne and Bobby Mannie led the offense with 17 points apiece. Payne was also tops in rebounds with eight.

Freshman Devontavius Payne collected 15 points in a reserve role. Another freshman, back-up forward, Tamas Bruce, checked in with 12 points and had a team-best four blocks. Sophomore Russell Woods added 10 points, while having to sit out several minutes with foul trouble.

Falling just short of double figures was sophomore Jordan Martin with nine points. A.J. Riley contributed six points, all in the second half. Justin Lukens banged home a triple. Tyler Scott hit a pair of free throws and Connor Wheeler added a free throw off a technical foul.

Logan trailed by as many as nine points at the 11:48 mark of first half at 15-6 before outscoring Shawnee 35-13 over the next eight minutes to take a 41-28 lead into the intermission. Two long trifectas by Martavian Payne in the waning seconds of the half were huge.

The closest the Saints got to Logan in the second half was on the first play of the second half when Justin Leon dunked off an alley-oop pass. From that point on, it was pretty much all Vols. Leon led the Saints with 24 points.

As a team, the Vols made good on 29-of-51 shots from the field (57 percent), including a stunning 14-of-19 (73 percent) in the second half. Logan was also 6-of-13 from long range (46 percent) and 28-of-39 (72 percent) from the free-throw line. The Vols also won the battle of the boards, 37-to-27.

Logan will open District Tournament play at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Rend Lake against an undetermined opponent at press time.

“We’ve improved a lot from last year,” Smithpeters said. “And I think we’ve learned a lot from our six losses. Hopefully, we are locked in now. When we’re playing defense like we did tonight and playing like we’re capable, we’re a fun team to watch.”