The Logan Wildcats proved Monday night that you are only as good as your next game.
Fresh off its first loss of the season Friday night at Class AA No. 1 Poca, Logan had little time to dwell on the loss, in fact the Wildcats had to get back to work Saturday in preparation for the lone remaining undefeated squad in Class AAA in Fairmont Senior.
The Polar Bears entered the contest ranked No. 1 in Class AAA replacing Logan, who held the top spot for five consecutive weeks but dropped to third following the loss to Poca.
For everything that seemed to go wrong in Friday night’s loss to Poca, Monday night was a different story as the Wildcats overcame an eight-point first quarter deficit to Fairmont Senior its first loss of the season 72-64 in the Par Mar Shootout at the Big House at West Virginia State University.
“This is a very resilient group of young men. I have said that all long, but they battle, and they are intelligent guys,” Logan coach Zach Green said. “We had our worst game of the year Friday and they bounced back.”
“We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for this game but to come back in here and win this game tonight speaks volumes about those guys,” Green said.
Among the many things that have gone right for Fairmont Senior during a 13-0 start to the season was the ability to take care of the basketball and stay out of foul trouble.
Fairmont Senior turned the ball over 15 times compared to Logan’s six and committed 20 fouls in the contest.
“Where we got hurt was points off turnovers and we fouled too much,” Fairmont Senior coach Dave Retton said. “It is simple we fouled too much, and they are an excellent free throw shooting team.”
That was the complete opposite for much of the Polar Bears 14th game, which resulted in their first loss of the season.
“We never have a goal of going undefeated. There is going to be one team that goes undefeated from regional to the state championship,” Retton said. “There is only one team and there is a lot to learn from this game and hopefully we will grow and improve from the game.”
“Logan has a very good team, and we have a pretty good team too,” Retton said. “Our goal is to learn from this game and help us get better as we close out our season.”
Logan was able to turn the 15 Polar Bear turning into 24 points and closed the game out at the free throw line converting on 11-of-14 attempts in the fourth quarter. Aiden Slack finished with 14 points for Logan on just one field goal but was 12-of-13 from the foul line including 6-of-6 in the fourth quarter.
“We started about midway through the second quarter that we wanted to turn the tempo up and that was when we figured out that we could turn them over a little bit,” Green said. “We were struggling to rebound but we were able to get out in transition by forcing turnovers.”
“Aiden not only did it on the foul line, but he did it on the defensive end,” Green said. “He was all over the place tonight, he plays with high energy and those free throws were down the stretch of the game and they were big.”
Things were clicking early for Fairmont Senior as the Polar Bears jumped out to an eight-point first quarter lead and held a 19-13 advantage after one quarter of play thanks in part to 52.9 percent shooting in the quarter and a 12-8 advantage on points in the paint.
The two teams would change the lead six times in the second quarter as Logan was able to capitalize off of six Polar Bear turnovers turning them into seven points, however, the Polar Bears pounded the offensive glass collecting eight offensive rebounds in the first half leading to 11 second chance points and a 35-34 halftime advantage.
“They killed us on the glass in the first half and that was a big point of emphasis for us at halftime,” Green said. “We want to run the ball and we can’t run the ball without stops and rebounds. We were getting stops, but we just couldn’t get the rebounds.”
Fortunes changed in the second half as Logan was able to draw a third foul on Fairmont Senior’s Eric Smith within the first minute of play in the third quarter. Smith had six points and four rebounds before setting the remainder of the quarter with three fouls.
Without Smith in the middle Logan was able to attack the paint and outscore Fairmont Senior 14-8 in the second half. The Wildcats were also able to limit the Polar Bears to just four second-half offensive rebounds while outscoring Fairmont 11-0 in the second half on second chance points.
Fairmont Senior shot 53.8 percent in the first half but was limited to just 36 percent in the second half without Smith on the floor.
“We did a very good job with the inside, and it hurt when Eric got in foul trouble,” Retton said. “They started attacking us in the paint and we struggled from stopping them getting shots in the paint.”
Garret Williamson’s jumper in the paint with 1:49 to play in the third quarter capped off a 16-8 run that gave Logan a 50-43 lead equaling its largest lead of the contest before Fairmont Senior closed on a 5-2 run to draw within four, 52-48, after three quarters.
Fairmont would close to within two, 61-59, with 2:06 to play after a 3-pointer from Pharoah Fields, however, it would as close as the Polar Bears would get as the Wildcats converted on 11-of-12 free throw attempts in the final minutes to pull away for the eight-point victory.
Jackson Tackett led Logan with 21 points and Scotty Browning added 18 for the Wildcats.
Browning scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half to keep Logan within striking distance while Tackett scored 13 of his 21 in the second half.
“Scotty was doing a really good job of getting those guys off the bounce getting to the basket and they got him going early and he was able to make some shots,” Green said. “Jackson is a warrior in there and is very patient in the post and does a good job at feeling his defender and was able to get a bunch of big buckets tonight.”
DeSean Goode had 20, 16 of which coming in the first half, to lead the Polar Bears. Goode also had a game-high 11 rebounds. Smith finished one rebound shy of a double-double finishing with 12 points and nine rebounds while Fields added 11 for Fairmont Senior.
Both Fairmont Senior and Logan will be heavy favorites to come out of the respective regions and get to Charleston to play for a state championship. The Polar Bears (13-1) are favorites to win one of the two Region 1 championships while the Wildcats (13-1) are favorites to come out of Region 4.
A second meeting could take place in Charleston, that meeting would likely take place in either the semifinals or state championship, but Retton is not looking that far ahead just yet as he knows the challenges that await his club in the postseason, especially in the sectional tournament where No. 7 East Fairmont or No. 9 Grafton could be lurking in the wings.
“I am worried about the matchups that we will see within our own section,” Retton said. “We got four really good teams in Philip Barbour, East (Fairmont), Grafton and Norte Dame. I am worried about getting out of our section.”
Fairmont Senior will look to rebound from its first loss of the season Wednesday night when they host Robert C. Byrd. The Eagles are 7-7 after defeating Hurricane 66-39 in one of the earlier games of the Par Mar Shootout Monday afternoon. The Polar Bears defeated the Eagles 60-49 on Dec. 31 in Clarksburg.
“It’s one game, let's get better and go back to work tomorrow,” Retton said. “They (RCB) play hard, there defense is excellent and we are going to have to be ready on Wednesday.”
Logan (13-1) will return to action Wednesday night as they travel to Wayne. The Wildcats defeated the Pioneers 86-54 on Jan. 4 at Willie Akers Arena. The Pioneers started the season 5-0 but have lost 10 of their last 12 games and currently have a record of 7-10.
Regardless of wins or losses, Green expects a tough game from the youthful Pioneers Wednesday night at Wayne.
“Always is a tough place to play, they play well there, it is a different environment and a different scenery,” Green said. “They are young, and they will go through some growing pains. They have a couple of good young guards, and we know we are going to have to play well on the road.”
Logan 72, Fairmont Senior 64
Scotty Browning 7-16 3-4 18, Garrett Williamson 4-13 0-2 9, Aiden Slack 1-2 12-13 14, Jaxon Cogar 4-4 1-1 9, Chance Maynard 0-0 1-2 1, Jackson Tackett 9-13 3-5 21.
Totals: 25-48 20-27 72.
Fairmont Senior (13-1)
Dominic Viani 2-9 0-0 4, Pharoah Fields 4-10 0-1 11, Zycheus Dobbs 4-9 1-1 9, Joseph Uram 3-6 1-2 8, DeSean Goode 7-11 4-6 20, Andre Grant 0-1 0-0 0, Eric Smith 5-7 1-2 12.
Totals: 25-53 7-12 64.
Logan 13 21 18 20- 72
Fairmont 19 16 13 16- 64
3-point field goals- Logan 2-8 (Browning 1-4, Williamson 1-4), Fairmont Senior 7-20 (Viani 0-5, Fields 3-7, Dobbs 0-2, Uram 1-2, Goode 2-2, Grant 0-1, Smith 1-1). Rebounds- Logan 23 (Tackett 5), Fairmont Senior32(Goode11). Assists- Logan 6 (Williamson 5), Fairmont Senior 2 (Fields 2). Total fouls- Logan 10, Fairmont Senior 20. Fouled out-None. Technical Fouls-None.