PICKAWAY COUNTY — Numbers matter.
And one number that mattered for Miami Trace on Saturday was a seven-inch height advantage it enjoyed in the post.
The Panthers were effective at running an inside-out offense to end the first half on a 16-4 run and hand host Logan Elm a 50-33 non-league setback.
Andrew Guthrie, a 6-8 senior, paced all scorers 17 points and also pulled down eight rebounds for the Panthers. Isaiah Reisinger and Austin Boedeker followed with six points apiece.
“We knew our height would be an advantage against Logan Elm, and we’ve become a more effective team over the last week at playing inside-out on offense,” Miami Trace coach Ben Ackley said. “We want the ball to run through the post and take advantage of our size on the block to score or get the defense to collapse and help out, so we can kick out to an open shooter.”
The number that counted for the Braves (3-2) was being down three starters from their projected lineup to open the season, including their top two returning scorers in senior guard Tanner Holbert and senior wing Braylen Baker, who combined to average 31.9 points last season. Holbert and junior Brody Sabine haven’t played so far this season, while Baker suffered a knee injury a night earlier during the third quarter of a 50-47 win over archrival Circleville.
“I was proud of how hard our guys played and competed, but this was a tough turnaround from an emotional win over Circleville and having to play an excellent team like Miami Trace,” Logan Elm coach Doug Stiverson said. “We had to move some people around and make adjustments on both offense and defense when we knew we were going to be without Tanner before the season. We really needed to get a couple of practices to do that again after losing Braylen last night, but unfortunately we didn’t get that opportunity.”
Miami Trace (5-0) scored the first eight points of the night, but Logan Elm countered with the next eight points on a runner and old-fashioned three-point play by Nemiah Waugh and another three-point play courtesy of Drew Tomlinson.
“Our defense was okay for the most part,” Ackley said. “I felt like we had a few letdowns during the game, but we are playing some younger kids and are working to bring them along. Those moments will be something that we’ll continue to work on.
“You also have to give some credit to Logan Elm. I know they are playing short-handed, but their kids play with a lot of fight, they’re scrappy and they are a well-coached team with what Coach Stiverson and his staff and have done over the years here.”
The Panthers started their aforementioned decisive 16-4 run to close the first half when Bryson Sheets beat the buzzer with a putback to give Miami Trace a 10-8 advantage entering the second quarter.
Miami Trace connected on 7 of its last 10 (70 percent) shots to close the half, while holding the Braves to just 2 of 10 (20 percent) shooting.
Five players scored for the Panthers during the run, highlighted by Reisinger draining a pair of three-pointers, to send the Panthers into halftime with a 24-12 lead.
Miami Trace continued its hot shooting into the third quarter, connecting on 8 of 12 (75 percent) attempts, led by Guthrie scoring six points, and Boedeker and Brady Armstrong scoring two baskets apiece.
“We did a nice job of sharing the basketball and finding the right spots on the court to where we could score from around the block or knocking down a shot away from the basket,” Ackley said. “Andrew led us, which we figured he would coming into the game, but we were able to get a number of different players involved.”
Miami Trace finished the game 23 of 42 (54.8 percent) from the field compared to Logan Elm hitting on only 14 of 50 (28 percent) attempts. The Panthers also claimed a 34-22 rebounding advantage.
Waugh paced the Braves with 16 points and five rebounds, Gage Arnett scored six points, and Drew Tomlinson added five points. Carson Summers led the Braves with seven rebounds.
“We obviously struggled shooting the basketball and being consistent on offense, but we’ll go back to work in practice on Monday and start to make some adjustments,” Stiverson said. “It’s going to be a process. We just need to continue and play with a lot of effort and attitude like we have been.”
Both teams resume league competition on Tuesday, as the Panthers travel to the First Capital for a Frontier Athletic Conference tilt against Chillicothe and the Braves host Liberty Union for a Mid-State League Buckeye Division contest.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MT 10 14 17 9 — 50
LE 8 4 9 12 — 33
MIAMI TRACE — Trey Robinette 1-0-2, Grant Guess 1-0-2, Coledon May 2-0-4, Brady Armstrong 2-0-4, Isaiah Reisinger 0 (2)-0-6, Austin Boedeker 3-0-6, Bryson Sheets 2-0-4, Andrew Guthrie 8-1-17, Bryson Osborne 1 (1)-0-5. TOTALS — 20 (3)-1-50. Three-point field goals: Reisinger, 2; Osborne.
LOGAN ELM — Drew Tomlinson 2-1-5, Gage Arnett 0 (2)-0-6, Carson Summers 1-0-2, Alden Williams 2-0-4, Nemiah Waugh 6 (1)-1-16. TOTALS — 13 (3)-2-33. Three-point field goals: Arnett,2, Waugh.
Brad Morris is the editor and co-founder of SportingPumpkin.com, a high school sports website in Pickaway and southwest Fairfield counties.