By Josh Brown
CLAYTON — All season long, the Miami East boys basketball team has figured out ways to get big man Logan West involved inside, no matter what the opposition did to limit him.
Northeastern found a way to take him away completely.
The Jets ran a box-and-one defense on the Vikings’ post player, and with a defender in front of and behind him all night long, Miami East could not find ways to get West touches inside. And with the score tied with less than three minutes to play, Aaron Phillips hit a 3-pointer to give No. 13 Northeastern the lead for good in a 30-25 victory over the No. 14 Vikings in the second round of the Division III sectional tournament Wednesday at Northmont High School.
West, who led the Vikings with 29 points and 16 rebounds in their 54-52 first-round upset in overtime over No. 5 Stivers on Saturday, was held to his lowest point total of the season with two points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.
“It’s very unusual to see a box-and-one or diamond-and-one against a post player like Logan,” Miami East coach Allen Mack said. “But when you’ve had as dominant a season and as dominant a game as he had, sometimes you’re going to see unusual defenses. And it worked out for them.”
It had been an unusual season for the Vikings, who finished the year 12-12 after they had won the sectional title last season. In one game this season, Versailles — which Miami East defeated for that sectional title last year — held the ball for an entire quarter in a regular season win over the Vikings.
There weren’t many shots taken early in Wednesday’s game, either, and far fewer made. Northeastern’s Casey Hughes and Miami East’s Austin Kearns both had all of their respective teams’ points in the first quarter as the Vikings and Jets combined to go 4 for 19 from the field in the opening eight minutes, leaving the score tied 4-4 after one.
Phillips gave the Jets the lead early in the second quarter, but Cam Coomes and Dalton Taynor hit back-to-back 3s to give East a 10-6 lead with 5:23 left until halftime. But that was all the Vikings would get the rest of the half, and Northeastern closed with three unanswered buckets to take a 12-10 lead at the break.
The Vikings hit five 3s throughout the game, but it was never enough to get the Jets to loosen the pressure on West inside. The senior scored on the opening play of the third quarter, but it was the only time East was able to get the ball to him in the game as he went only 1 for 5 from the field. The Jets retook control in the third, but a steal and layup by Coomes at the buzzer kept the score tied at 16-16.
“Logan only had one game under double digits coming into this one,” Mack said. “We ran a little special that kind of caught them off guard coming out of halftime, but that’s the only clean look he got inside, and it wasn’t enough. They (Northeastern) stayed pretty consistent (in focusing on West) because the score stayed close. We never got enough separation to make it happen.”
Taynor hit a pair of 3s in the fourth — both of which gave the Vikings the lead at the time. He opened the quarter with one that put East up 19-16, but a putback by Cole Baugh and a three-point play by Hughes gave the Jets a 21-19 lead. Taynor then drilled another 3 to put the Vikings up 22-21, but Northeastern evened things up with a free throw with 5:11 to go — and that’s where things remained until there was 2:25 left in the game.
With the Jets passing the ball around the perimeter, a Miami East defender tried to anticipate a pass and go for a steal. But Phillips won the scramble for the tipped ball and, with his defender laying on the floor, pulled up and hit Northeastern’s only 3 of the game to give the Jets a 25-22 lead.
“That was the crucial play of the game,” Mack said. “Just a scramble play that left him open, and he hit it. We had some other scramble plays on rebounds before that when we had the lead, though, and we just weren’t able to hold it there.”
The Vikings then missed a pair of free throws, and Phillips sank a pair to make it a five-point game with 1:10 to go. After another stop on defense, Phillips hit a pair of free throws with 11.6 seconds to go to put the Jets up 29-22. Coomes heaved up a desperation 3 and banked it in to cut the lead to 29-25 with 3.4 seconds left, but it was too little, too late.
Taynor led the Vikings with nine points, Coomes added eight points, Kearns had four points and seven rebounds and Justin Brown and West had two points each.
Hughes had 13 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Jets, who advance to Saturday’s sectional final to face Brookville. Phillips finished with nine points, Baugh had four points, Wesley Roberts had two points and Mac Davis and Alex Alexander each had one.
“It became a fourth-quarter game, they made the big play, got the edge, and with such a limited number of possessions and shots, it went their way,” Mack said. “I give them a lot of good credit. They’ve got a good team, their best team in years. Their seniors hadn’t won a tournament game prior to this year and now they’ve won two. We were just hoping to keep the energy going after the big win against Stivers, and unfortunately we weren’t able to make that happen.
“I’m disappointed for the seniors, Cam and Logan. They’ve had a really good job, done a good job of leading through good times and challenges. And I really want to thank my assistants — they helped put together a great gameplan going into the Stivers game, and we felt we were pretty well prepared going into this one. Northeastern kind of flipped the script when they went box-and-one on Logan, and unfortunately the adjustments we made weren’t enough tonight.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.