LOGAN, W.Va. — If you enjoyed Monday night’s Logan-Mingo Central clash at Willie Akers Arena chances are you’re going to see it again.
Class AA No. 6-ranked Mingo Central made it a sweep of Logan with Monday night’s hard fought 60-52 win over No. 9 Logan at Logan High School’s Willie Akers Arena, spoiling the Wildcats’ annual Senior Night game.
Mingo Central improved to 17-5 overall and 11-3 in the Cardinal Conference with the win and gained a regular season series sweep, coupled with a 73-59 win at home over the Wildcats on Dec. 20.
Logan fell to 13-8, 8-5 heading into Tuesday night’s regular season finale at Class AAA Huntington.
Regardlesss of Monday night’s outcome, Logan was expected to get the No. 3 seed for the upcoming sectional tournament with Chapmanville Regional (18-4) first and Mingo Central third.
The Tigers won the Cardinal Conference championship and, like Mingo Central, have been ranked all season in the state’s top 10.
That would mean Logan would get winless county rival Man (0-20) in an opening-round play-in game on Saturday night with likely No. 4 seed Lincoln County (15-6) getting possible No. 5 Scott (8-14) in the other first-round contest.
Chapmanville and Mingo Central would get first-round byes into the semifinals.
Barring any earth shattering upsets of historical proportions, Logan would then face Mingo Central again next Tuesday in a semifinal round game on the neutral floor at Chapmanville Regional’s Danny Godby Gymnasium.
Chapmanville would then play either Lincoln County or Scott in the other sectional semifinal, possibly at Logan.
The two semifinal winners would then meet in the sectional championship game on Friday, March 3 at a neutral site to be determined later.
That’s how it could shake out.
But on Monday night, both teams showed just how exciting this new six-team sectional could be.
Logan played the Miners tough early, holding onto a 20-all tie at halftime.
Mingo Central, led by top scorer Jeremy Dillon, then began to pull away in the third quarter.
Dillon got hot, hitting a trio of third-quarter 3-pointers, as the Miners led 42-35 after three.
Logan got to within two points in the fourth quarter, but Mingo Central pulled away again in the fourth to notch the win.
Dillon led Mingo Central’s balanced scoring with 19 points. Freshman Drew Hatfield had 17, while Keshean Rhodes had 11. Aaron Banks had seven and Canaan Fletcher tossed in six points.
Logan’s top scorer, freshman sensation David Early, was held to 14 points — six under his average. Braxton Goff had 13, while Will Akers and Dino Noe pitched in nine points each. Jamal Minter had seven.
No bench players on their team reached the scorebooks.
Logan was 9-for-10 from the three throw line for 90 percent. The Miners were true on 18-of-25 of its charity tosses for 72 percent.
The Wildcats led 12-6 after the first quarter and led by as many as nine points in the second period.
Mingo Central coach Kevin Hatfield said it was a good win by his team in a tough atmosphere before an almost packed field house crowd.
“I told the referee with about 15 seconds left in the game that I had just felt that I had played,” joked a drained Coach Hatfield after the game. “I’m sweating and I’m worn out. I felt like I had just played some ball. It was a good atmosphere and it was a hard fought game. Both teams played hard. It really came down to us executing a little bit better on offense in the second half. We were able to free Jeremy up a few times on the baseline. He hit four 3s.”
Mingo Central kept Logan on its toes all night, switching up its defense.
“In the first half, they did a good job scouting us,” Hatfield said. “We ran a few things that we haven’t ran a lot the whole year. I was proud that our guys were able to run some things that we haven’t used much. We boxed out well and our 1-3-1 and 3-2 zones worked well. We started out man-to-man. In our 1-3-1 halfcourt trap they turned the ball over three times in a row in the fourth quarter and we got those run outs. We haven’t played much zone this year. I thought that really had an effect on them.”
Logan coach Zach Green said second half turnovers by his team ended up being the difference.
“I thought we did a pretty good job defensively,” Green said. “Other than some of the foul shots late we probably would have held them in the 50s where we knew we had to hold them but it’s the same song and dance with this team. Until we start understanding how important taking care of the basketball is in the fourth quarter we’re not going to win these big games. This has been the fourth or fifth time this year that we’ve had leads and we just don’t take care of the ball.”
Down seven after three quarters, the Wildcats were still in it and still had a chance.
Early scored a bucket for Logan as the Cats went on a 6-2 run to close the gap to 44-41.
Then with 4:11 left, Akers drilled a big 3-pointer as it was just a two-point spread at 47-45.
Mingo Central then got the job done in crunch time.
Banks scored on a putback and then hit two free throws as the Miners led 52-45 with 2:47 remaining.
Freshman guard Drew Hatfield then scored on a layup as the lead swelled to 54-45 with 2:02 left.
That pretty much was the clincher for the Miners, which then made six straight free throws to put the win on ice.
Goff momentarily kept Logan in it with a 3 with 33 ticks to go, cutting the MCHS lead to 56-50.
Mingo Central senior guard Banks then netted two free throws with 31.2 seconds left to make it a 58-50 ballgame.
Dillon hit two more foul shots with 12.5 ticks left to put the final nails in Logan’s coffin.
“Tonight was a team effort,” Coach Hatfield said. “Keshean played his third good game in a row. Jeremy played well tonight as did Drew. Even our big guys did their job. We just told our guys, ‘Do your job.’ Everybody can’t be a scorer. We’re happy with this win, but to be honest, it doesn’t mean anything. It was a good game and it was a fun game though. We’re probably going to be playing them again (in the sectionals).”
Coach Hatfield said Rhodes did a good job in containing Early. Mingo Central’s 3-2 zone squeezed the Cats out past the 3-point arc and closed the lanes for Logan’s slashers.
“Keshean did a pretty good job on him when we played man but when we went zone I thought that we were really able to close some gaps on David,” Hatfield said. “Everytime he went to drive we closed it down.”
Logan had the upper hand early.
A 3 by Minter gave the Cats a 5-2 lead in the first quarter.
It was 12-6 after one as Early drilled a trey and scored on a nifty 15-foot fade-away jumper from the foul line.
In the second quarter, it was more of Logan.
Akers canned a 3-pointer to make it 15-9 and then the senior guard hit another trey as Logan built its largest lead of the night at 20-11 with 3:17 left until halftime.
Mingo Central then went on a 9-0 run to tie it up at 20 at the intermission. Drew Hatfield’s big 3 with two seconds left gave the Miners the tie and the momentum going into the halftime break.
In the third quarter, a pair of 3s by Dillon pushed the Miners’ lead to 29-23.
Goff completed an old-fashioned three-point play with 3:20 left as Logan trimmed the deficit to 32-28.
Rhodes then answered with his own three-point play to make it 35-28.
Banks later got the ball in the open court after a Logan turnover and tried to rock the rim with a dunk but the ball clanged off the iron at the 2:26 mark.
Early and Dillon then traded 3s as Mingo Central led 39-33 with 1:36 left.
Noe hit two fouls shots for Logan but Drew Hatfield was able to give the Miners added momentum going into the fourth quarter as he banked home a 25-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer. He was fouled on the shot attempt and missed a chance at a rare four-point play as the ball bounced off the back iron. Nevertheless, the Miners led 42-35 after three periods of play and were on their way to victory.
Logan honored its senior players — Goff, Akers, Tyler Browning, Minter, Trice Boatwright, Austin Conn, Joseph Lowe, Dakota Varney and Samson Woodruff — before the game.
Boatwright, Conn, Minter, Goff and Akers were also this year’s recipients of the Willie Akers Scholarship awards.
“I couldn’t have been any more fortunate to have such a good group of kids for my first year as a head coach,” Green said of his seniors. “They are good kids. They want to work and they want to get better. They play hard. I couldn’t ask for anything more out of those guys.”
Logan was slated to play at Huntington (15-5), an old Class AAA sectional rival, on Tuesday night in the regular season finale. Monday’s game closed out the regular season for the Miners.
Green said the upcoming sectionals should be very competitive.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Green said. “Both of our Chapmanville games were good games. At Mingo it was pretty close without Braxton. We beat Poca. We’ve had some good wins this year. But we have failed in the fourth quarter in taking care of the basketball and getting good shots. That’s what has beat us all year.”
Coach Hatfield said it’s been a good season of basketball on Miner Mountain.
“These guys have made history,” he said. “This is the most wins Mingo Central has ever had. The other team that won 16 games made it to the state tournament. We’ve already made it to 17 before the post-season tournaments. This is a fun group of guys. They like each other and that’s what has made this season so enjoyable but we’ll be disappointed if we don’t make it to the state tournament.”
Boys’ Basketball Standings
Team Conf. All
Chapmanville 12-1 18-4
Mingo Central 11-3 17-5
Logan 8-5 13-8
Scott 3-11 8-14
Wayne 0-12 4-17
Team Conf. All
Poca 9-4 16-5
Winfield 7-5 13-8
Sissonville 7-7 13-8
Nitro 6-7 13-8
Herbert Hoover 2-10 9-12
Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner.