December 6, 2015

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

MOUNT CARMEL - Who would have thought that a low-scoring first half (29-28) would result in a combined 210 points by the end of the night?

But that's exactly what happened as the John A. Logan College men's basketball team pulled off a stunning rally, overcoming an eight-point deficit with less than a minute to play, to knock off host Wabash Valley College, 106-104, in double overtime Saturday.

The win improves the Vols' record within the Great Rivers Athletic Conference and Region 24 to 5-0 and to a perfect 12-0 overall. The Warriors fall to 2-2 in the league and 7-3 overall.

Logan could never pull away from a hungry Warriors ballclub intent upon pulling the upset of the young season. 

The Vols would build leads of five-to-six points on multiple occasions only to see Wabash Valley erase those leads.

And then the fouls mounted against Logan, so much so in fact, that five Vols ended up fouling out of the game - Devontavius Payne, Tamas Bruce, Michael Tucker, Armon Benford, and Jerome Davis. 

"What's amazing is that several of those guys didn't play all that many minutes and still fouled out," said Logan head coach Kyle Smithpeters.

The Warriors capitalized and took the lead as the game clock wound down. 

But this Logan team is indeed something special. It finds ways to persevere even when facing long odds.

Guard Jalen Perry got hot, hitting some shots in the lane. The Warriors missed a couple of big free throws and Jarvis Calhoun eventually found himself at the free-throw line with virtually no time left on the clock and his team trailing 81-79.

It had been a rough night for the lefthanded sharpshooter. He was 0-for-7 from beyond the arc, but with the game on the line, calmly sank two free throws to tie the game at 81 and force the first overtime period.

"What can you say? He played in the NCAA Tournament with Alabama-Birmingham for a reason," Smithpeters said. "To have that icewater in the veins and step up and knock down those free throws like it's nothing...it was as though he were in the gym shooting them all by himself."

Logan fell behind in the first extra session as Wabash Valley's Jaylen Beckham scored, completed the conventional three-point play and then tacked on another lay-in basket for a five-point lead at 86-81.

The Vols bounced back as redshirt freshman guard Allen Jones drained a huge triple to cut the gap to two at 86-84.

"That really changed the momentum and pushed it into our favor," Smithpeters said.

A different Jones - JaKwan Jones of the Warriors - then scored to push the lead back to four, but sophomore Justin Lukens responded for the Vols with a drive and shot in the lane to make the score 88-86.

Two free throws by Beckham again extended the advantage to four, but Ranell Crossland drained two tosses of his own to make the score 90-88.

After getting a stop on the defensive end, the Vols tied the game at 90 as Perry scored down low.

Wabash regained the lead at 91-90 with a free throw by Ja'Kwan Jones. Perry answered with a bucket on the other end to give Logan the lead back at 92-91. 

The Vols then took a three-point lead at 94-91 on a pair of free throws by Jerome Davis. Beckham trimmed the lead to one with two tosses. Lukens next converted one of two throws for a 95-93 lead, but then Hank Mathews of the Warriors pulled a Jarvis Calhoun and netted two free throws with almost no time left on the clock to tie the game at 95 and force a second overtime.

Trailing 104-102 with about 15 seconds left to play, Lukens hit the biggest shot of his career - a triple to give Logan the lead back at 105-104. 

Wabash Valley could not cash in on the offensive end and the Vols' Calhoun was fouled with 2.3 seconds to go.

Calhoun missed the first shot and then made the second to account for the final margin.

"Wabash played so hard. Everything they did bothered us it seemed," Smithpeters said. "They exposed some of our weaknesses tonight. We're going to have to get tougher. We can't get in a habit of being too nonchalant. We were one offensive rebound away from losing the ballgame."

Smithpeters said the Vols were resilient.

"We played with a lot of heart, no doubt," he said. "We battled the entire game. I'm very proud of these guys for staying locked in."

Top scorer for the Vols was Payne with 20 points. Crossland was one back at 19. Perry followed with 17. Lukens and Tucker checked in with 11 each. Calhoun flipped in eight. Davis accounted for seven and Bruce added six.

Crossland led in rebounds with 11.

Logan returns to action at 6 p.m. next Saturday at Vincennes in a key Region 24 match.