CIRCLEVILLE – When asked about banking in a 30-35 foot three-pointer at the third quarter buzzer, a big smile came over the face of Canal Winchester senior guard Remon Nelson.
“I was just in a zone,” Nelson said. “I felt confident putting up that last shot and fortunately it went in for us.
“They had three players guarding B.J. (Mullens) and that created some opportunities for everybody.”
Behind a smothering defense and a scoring surge from Nelson, the visiting Canal Winchester Indians scored a 60-45 win over the Logan Elm Braves Saturday to secure a share of its second consecutive Mid-State League Buckeye Division crown.
“It feels good to win the MSL title,” Nelson said. “This was our first goal and we wanted to accomplish this so we can hopefully take some momentum into the tournament.”
Canal Winchester (16-2, 12-0) can clinch the outright title if it can defeat rival Bloom-Carroll Tuesday.
Nelson posted 11 of his game-high 20 points in the third quarter, and also added five steals. Mullens gathered a dozen points and 16 rebounds, and Aaron Gilbert and Jarmod Woodley both collected eight points.
Canal Winchester hit 24 of 46 shots, while Logan Elm connected on 16 of 46 opportunities from the field.
“Our defense was the difference in the game,” Canal Winchester coach Kent Riggs said. “They're so good at spreading out teams and running their stuff, and our guards did a good job of making them work very hard.
“We wanted to get up and press not so much full-court but half-court and try to wear out (Tim) Congrove and both (Adam and Bryant) Blakes. We kept fresh players on them.”
Leading a tight game 24-19 coming out of halftime, the Indians began the third quarter with a deciding 12-2 run, paced by Nelson picking Logan Elm's pocket twice to score a pair of layups, while adding a three-pointer and free throw for eight points of the
Nelson finished the third period by banking a three-pointer at the buzzer, increasing the Indians advantage to 41-27 heading into the final period.
Logan Elm connected on only three of 10 shots in the third period.
“We were never able to put together a string of shots that might have given us some momentum offensively,”
Logan Elm coach Doug Stiverson said. “They just have so many good athletes and they made us work hard to generate offense.
“… I'm still extremely proud of this team. All the kids played tremendously hard and didn't back down.
They honestly believed they could win this game and they at least had a shot at the league title.”
Many late-comers to Spangler Memorial Gymnasium were greeted with locked doors adorned with sold out signs.
The atmosphere inside was just as electric as Logan Elm (14-4, 10-2) and Canal Winchester battled through four lead changes in the first quarter.
Adam Blake hit a three-pointer off a feed from Congrove to give the Braves its final lead at 9-7.
Nelson hit the second of his four three-pointers to put the Indians ahead for good, then feed Mullens for a monster dunk to help put the signature on a 14-10 Canal lead following the opening eight minutes.
Adam Blake paced Logan Elm with 14 points and seven assists. Bryant Blake had 11 points and four rebounds, and Steve Largent contributed eight points and seven
The Braves host Amanda-Clearcreek Tuesday in its final home game of the season.
“We have a group of seniors who work extremely hard and put a lot into our basketball team,” Stiverson said. “Hopefully we will have another big crowd like this one to honor them.
“It was exciting for our kids to play in an environment like this. People came to see B.J. but they also came to see a good basketball game. This is a game our kids will remember.”