In its march to the Division II state championship last season, the
Chillicothe Cavaliers faced two strong tests to claim its first-ever
state hoops crown. The last was Toledo Libbey as Chillicothe emerged with an overtime victory in the state title game. The first was Circleville Logan Elm. Saturday the Braves got revenge.
CHILLICOTHE – In its march to the Division II state championship last season, the Chillicothe Cavaliers faced two strong tests to claim its first-ever state hoops crown.
The last was Toledo Libbey as Chillicothe emerged with an overtime victory in the state title game.
The first was Circleville Logan Elm, a heavy underdog in a Southeast District championship game who came a basket short of ending the Cavaliers march to Columbus.
Logan Elm traveled to Chillicothe Saturday for a rematch, coming out on top 55-52 in front of a packed audience.
Chillicothe and Logan Elm were considered preseason favorites in the district and contenders to come out of the Athens regional.
The Braves return three starters from last year’s team – sharp shooting guard Tim Congrove, point guard Blake and guard Chad Holbrook, who is one of the strengths of Logan Elm’s defense first mentality.
Logan Elm has also received contributions from two transfers, which were huge in the win against Chillicothe. Ashville Teays Valley transfer Brandon Amann scored a game-high 25 points and Frankfort Adena transfer Logan Hauserman added 10 points and three blocks.
“(Brandon) gives us that athletic ability of getting to the rim, the way we may not have had in the past,” Logan Elm coach Doug Stiverson said. “It was a hostile environment a little bit playing on the road against a very good team and being tested the way he was tonight. He came up with some big plays for us.”
Another reason for Logan Elm’s win was its zone defense.
“We started with some three-quarter-court stuff to slow them down and make them think a little bit,” Stiverson said. “We stayed in our zone.
“They stepped up and made some shots in the third quarter. But we stuck with it. We felt like if we stayed in it it was our best chance.”
Even with being 6-0, the Braves are still struggling for consistency in some areas. Logan Elm has struggled putting away opponents when up by double digits. Logan Elm led 34-23 at halftime, only to see Chillicothe cut the lead down to three in the fourth quarter. The Braves built the lead back up to nine in the fourth quarter, only to go scoreless for over five minutes.
Logan Elm has also struggled with rebounding as Chillicothe held a 14-rebound advantage over the Braves.
“We have to just do a better job rebounding,” Stiverson said. “I thought that was a huge key for them was their offensive rebounding. We have to do a better job of recognizing who we have to get in our zone defense.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers are off to a 1-2 start on the season. One of the biggest issues for Chillicothe has simply been playing games. The Cavaliers played its third game in 21 days with the matchup against Logan Elm.
“We’ve sat for long stretches,” Chillicothe coach Gary Kellough said. “We got really, really stagnant.
“We had a good first half at Ironton (in a 54-49 loss on Dec. 19 coming after a 13-day break from the season opener). Then, we hit the wall in the second half. We had no legs and no mind.
“Now we seem to be past the stupid stage, and we can focus on playing a couple of games a week and get into a flow. You can’t get into a flow practicing all the time.”
The Cavaliers lost two key components off last year’s team – guard Anthony Hitchens, who is playing at the University of Akron, and center Ray Chambers. Leading returners for Chillicothe are post player Seth Dawes, guard Caleb Knights and forward Ron Smith.
Dawes led Chillicothe with 14 points against the Braves and Michael Turner added 10.
“We’re looking for the third or fourth guy that can really score,” Kellough said. “Other than a couple of kids, we are playing inexperienced kids. After only a couple of games, we really don’t know where we are at.
“So this game gives us another idea of what to work on and the direction we need to go. We’re okay. We always start slow.”
One strength the Cavaliers have is on the blocks, which will be amplified after 6-9 freshman center Malik London returns in late January.
“We have some athletic kids who are pretty aggressive out there,” Kellough said. “In all three games we’ve outrebounded our opponent.
“ … We haven’t been out of the 30s (percent) shooting yet. It’s not like we aren’t getting the ball into good position to where there are some easy and good looks. We just aren’t finishing. Sometimes we are putting the ball in the wrong place or not feeling where the defense is.”