March 15, 2015

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

HUTCHINSON, KAN. - The John A. Logan College men's basketball team will open first-round play at the junior college Nationals tonight at 8:30 in Hutchinson, Kan. The 27-6 Volunteers square off against 23-8 Cape Fear Community College out of Wilmington, N.C.

Cape Fear qualified for Nationals a year ago and lost its opening-round game. Logan has not appeared at Nationals since 1995. In fact, it was the only time the Vols have ever qualified for the tourney and Logan lost both of its games, one to West Nebraska and one to Vincennes, Ind.

The Sea Devils are led by 6-foot-4 sophomore forward Anthony Vanhook, who averages 21.5 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. He is supported offensively by guards Demetres Abrams (11 PPG) and T.J. Evans (10.5 PPG).

Logan, meanwhile, is led offensively by sophomore shooting guard Martavian Payne (16 PPG) and sophomore center Russell Woods (14.3 PPG). Freshman Devontavius Payne of Carbondale is also in double figures at 10 PPG as a reserve. Sophomore A.J. Riley averages 9 PPG and sophomore Jordan Martin knocks down 8 PPG. Woods leads the team in rebounds at seven per game.

"Cape Fear has a very good record to show for the competition they have faced," said Vols third-year head coach Kyle Smithpeters. "The fact that they went to Nationals last year and lost their first game is motivation for them to try and avoid that again this year. I think they will try to spread us out and attack us. But, I also think they will have a hard time guarding our big guys (Woods, Martin and Tamas Bruce). And because our guards rebound so well, we will be tough to stop in transition."

Smithpeters said he believes the hard-fought District 16 championship win over top-ranked Vincennes last week is proof positive that the Vols can beat anyone at Nationals. It's just a matter of duplicating that same intensity and effort.

"We gave a very good effort against Vincennes," Smithpeters said. "We've had that ikind of effort before, but not against them, which is why it stood out more. I think that as long as we take care of the basketball and minimize our mistakes, we should be tough to beat. And, I really feel that the kids are locked in right now."

Should the 10th-seeded Vols beat 23rd-seed, Cape Fear, they would advance to the Sweet 16 round and play No. 7 seed, Northwest Wyoming, at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

"If we can win Monday, we would have an open day Tuesday to prepare. That's what we are hoping for," Smithpeters said.