CHAPMANVILLE – There is a thought among basketball fans that it is difficult to beat a team three times in one season. That appeared to be what might happen as No. 3 seed Logan took on No. 2 seed Mingo Central on Tuesday night in the Class AA Region 4, Section 2 tournament before a packed house at Danny Godby Gymnasium in Chapmanville.
But in the end, the Miners were able to dig themselves out of a hole and ended up winning 40-35 in a low scoring game between two local rivals.
“I told the guys during a timeout ‘let’s get out of here with a win’,” said Mingo Central head coach Kevin Hatfield, who is in his first year at MCHS. It seemed his team was not in rhythm and out of sync. But in the final minutes of the fourth quarter they found a way to win.
“It seemed like the intensity kicked in. We had not been getting to any 50-50 balls or pulling down any big rebounds,” Hatfield said.
First year head coach Zack Green of Logan was naturally disappointed with the loss, especially since his team held a slight lead the entire game.
In fact, Mingo Central did not take their first lead until 1:25 left in the game, as freshman guard Drew Hatfield hit a 10-foot baseline jumper to give the Miners a 34-32 lead.
The Wildcats quickly took the ball up the floor and after a quick shot, senior Aaron Banks pulled down a big rebound. Junior guard Jeremy Dillon was fouled and went to the foul line, shooting the one-and-one. He made the first, but missed the second, however that gave MCHS a 35-32 lead.
On Logan’s next possession they had a key turnover, throwing the basketball out of bounds.
Mingo brought the ball up the floor and Banks was fouled with 30.2 seconds remaining. He hit one of two free throws, but that gave the Miners a two possession lead at 36-32.
“We didn’t take care of the ball. But I felt like we got the game taken from us on a couple of calls down the stretch,” Coach Green said. Green was upset with a couple of whistles by the refs, especially an offensive foul call near the end of the game.
“That was the difference in the game,” Green stressed.
“I think both teams are evenly matched and we held Dillon to 11 and Hatfield to nine,” Green said.
He said he was not really surprised that the game was low scoring. “Coach Hatfield and his team have a deliberate style and we knew that.
“I thought Keshean did a better job guarding Early (David) in the second half,” Hatfield said. “We shot horrible – especially in the first half. Drew had missed an easy shot, but he hit a big one that put us ahead. We made some plays at the end that we needed to have.”
“Give Logan credit – they played tough,” Hatfield added.
With his team leading 36-32 Dillon pulled down a key rebound and drove the ball out past the key to eat up some clock. He then threw a great pass to his cousin, sophomore Canaan Fletcher, who made a huge contested shot at the basket as he was fouled hard. He missed the chance for the 3-point play, but Mingo Central had some breathing room at 38-32.
The Wildcats quickly got the ball down the court and Early hit a big trey to cut the lead to 38-35. The Miners got the ball to their best free throw shooter Drew Hatfield who was fouled. He calmly swished in a pair of foul shots to give Mingo a 40-35 lead with 3.9 ticks left on the clock and the Miners advanced to the championship game of the sectional.
Logan led 9-6 after one quarter of play. Early, the talented freshman, fired in a 3-pointer to start the game. Then senior Will Akers swished in one from behind the arc. Mingo got baskets from Fletcher, Banks and Keshean Rhodes as the game was tied at 6-6 at the 4:18 mark of the first quarter.
Early hit another 3-pointer to give Logan the 9-6 advantage with 3:22 left in the first period, which turned out to be the only points scored in the first 8:00 minutes.
Fletcher fired in the first trey for the Miners early in the second quarter to tie the game at 9-9.
Mingo Central played a 1-3-1 zone to try to keep Logan from hitting their long distance shots. But the cold shooting continued for the Miners. They trailed 14-12 with 1:29 left in the half and the Miners called a timeout. On the ensuing play Dillon drove down the lane and scored his first basket of the game to tie the game at 14-14.
But on the next play, Logan’s Dino Noe threw down a thunderous dunk on an alley-oop to give the Cats the lead and the Logan fans really got into the game. The slam gave his team the momentum. After a missed opportunity by the Miners, Early drove hard to the basket and scored to give Logan an 18-14 lead, which is where the scored stood as the teams headed into the dressing room at the half.
Mingo Central only made 5-19 shots in the first half for 26 percent, while Logan wasn’t much better at 7-22 for 32 percent.
The two teams continued the defensive battle in the third quarter. Hatfield cut the lead to 22-21 for the Miners on a conventional 3-point play, but Early answered again for the Wildcats to make it 24-21.
At that point of the game Dillon had to come out and change jerseys due to blood on his uniform.
Logan soon went up 29-23 on an Early jumper.
Rhodes answered with a contested layup and was fouled on the other end. He made the free throw for the old-fashioned 3-point play to keep his team close at 29-26, which is where the scored stood heading into the exciting fourth quarter.
Dillon picked up his fourth foul on the offensive end with 2:09 left, which worried Miners’ fans.
The teams continued to trade baskets early in the final period, setting up the exciting finish.
Early led had a game-high 20 point to lead Logan. Braxton Goff scored five, Akers and Noe three each, while Jamal Minter and T.J. Mullins each scored two. The loss ends the season for Logan. They finished the year 14-10.
Dillon led Mingo Central with 12, but he only had three in the first half. Hatfield and Fletcher each scored nine points, while Banks and Rhodes both chipped in five. Dillon and Banks each pulled down seven rebounds.
Logan was 4-6 at the foul line, while Mingo Central was 11-15 at the charity stripe.
Mingo Central ended the game shooting 38 percent making 14-38 shots. The Miners only made one 3-pointer, which was hit by Fletcher.
The win for Mingo Central (18-5) sets up another rematch as they will take on the Chapmanville Tigers on Friday night at the Logan Memorial Fieldhouse for the sectional title. The game is set to tip-off at 7:00 p.m. And the winner will get to host a co-regional game next week, while the loser will have to hit the road.
Chapmanville manhandled Lincoln County earlier on Tuesday 69-37 to advance to the finals.
Score by quarters:
Logan (35): D. Early 20, W. Akers 3, D. Noe 3, J. Minter 2, T.J. Mullins 2, B. Goff 5, T. Chapman 0.
(3-pointers, Early 4, Akers 1)
Mingo (40): A. Banks 5, C. Fletcher 9, K. Rhodes 5, D. Hatfield 9, J. Dillon 12.
(3-pointers, Fletcher 1)