March 17, 2015

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

HUTCHINSON, KAN. - The 23rd-seed Cape Fear Sea Devils rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit (32-24) to upset No. 10 seed, John A. Logan, 76-66, in opening-round action of the National Junior College Athletic Association men's basketball national finals Monday night at the Sports Arena in Hutchinson, Kan.

Turnovers plagued the Volunteers on this night. Logan committed 14 miscues in the first half and 11 more in the second half for 25 altogether. Defensively, the Vols were solid over the first 20 minutes, but then fell apart over the final 20 minutes, surrendering 52 points.

"Even with the turnovers in the first half, I thought we did a good job guarding and holding them to only 24 points," said Vols head coach Kyle Smithpeters. "I'll take that most any night. I think what hurt us was that we got rattled with the foul calling. We had Martavian Payne pick up his third foul in the first half and had a bunch with two."

Smithpeters said the Vols simply didn't do a very good job of stepping up and taking advantage of their early lead. Three times, Logan held leads of 13 points, only to see it hacked to eight by the intermission.

"We began having a lot of empty possessions and got stagnant on defense," he said. "Give credit to Cape Fear, though. They came back on us. After shooting 27 percent (8-of-29) in the first half, they shot 51 percent in the second (17-of-33). They did some things well and we really let up on the defensive end, I felt."

Once the Sea Devils took the lead in the second half at 47-44 on a triple by Nate Sims, they never relinquised it. The Vols stayed within a pioint at 55-54 before Cape Fear gradually increased its advantage.

Whereas the Vols erased a 10-point deficit against Vincennes 10 days earlier in the championship game of the District 16 tournament at Rend Lake, Monday's comeback came up short.

Logan got as close as five points with a little over a minute to go at 71-66, but would get no closer.

The Vols were led offensively by sophomore guards Martavian Payne and A.J. Riley with 14 points each. Another sophomore guard, Connor Wheeler tallied eight points as did sophomore center Russell Woods and freshman guard Devontavius Payne. Ranell Crossland tacked on six points. Jordan Martin followed with four. Tamas Bruce and Bobby Mannie added two apiece.

Logan finished the game converting 19-of-52 shots or 37 percent. The Vols did win the rebounding battle, 51-38, but were a pedestrian 27-of-42 from the free-throw line (64 percent).

The Vols finish the 2014-15 season with an overall record of 27-7, including Great Rivers Athletic, Region 24 and District 16 championships.

"We took some good steps this year as to where we want the program to be," Smithpeters said. "We can only build it up from here. I hate to see the sophomores go, because they were a special group, but we have some really good freshmen ready to take some spots."