Serving the High Plains

Stoner fuels Logan's opening-round win

LOGAN - The Longhorns were losing at halftime and needed a boost from an offense stuck in low gear.

It got that boost from junior guard Kaeden Stoner, who scored 15 of his game-high 20 points in the third quarter to ignite eighth-seeded Logan to a 46-39 victory Saturday over ninth-seeded Legacy Academy in the first round of the Class 1A boys basketball tournament.

The Longhorns (18-11) advanced to the quarterfinals, where they were scheduled to face defending state champion and top-seeded Magdalena (29-0) at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Bernalillo High School. Magdalena walloped 16th-seeded To'hajiilee 76-15 in its first-round game.

The semifinal in Logan's bracket would be 4:45 p.m. Thursday at the Rio Rancho Events Center, with the final at 6 p.m. Saturday at The Pit in Albuquerque.

In the first half, it appeared the game would be a defensive slugfest, with both teams struggling to get open shots. Logan led 6-4 after one quarter, and Legacy held a 17-14 advantage at intermission.

Logan coach Kyle Griffiths said his team was a little anxious during the half.

"We needed to slow down and relax a little bit on the offensive end," he said. "We were kind of forcing shots and were in a hurry.

"Their defense was a little bit different than what we've seen. They trap a little bit, and it was a matchup zone with traps up high. We knew they were going to do it, but it's hard to mimic that in practice until we got used to it."

In the third quarter, Stoner gained a hot hand with three 3-pointers and three more buckets on fastbreaks or driving into the lane. He singlehandedly turned a three-point deficit into a 29-22 lead.

"He came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter," Griffiths said. "He really got us going. He hit some big shots.

"We talked about it at halftime: 'We're going to have to shoot with confidence. Somebody's going to have to step up offensively.' We did a good job defensively the whole game, but we just weren't scoring in the first half. So when he got going, the rest of the team got going. The crowd got into it, and that pushed us over the edge, for sure."

Legacy coach Marty Zeller took some of the blame for Stoner's hot streak. He instructed his players to keep an eye on Logan's top scorer, Brock Burns, but apparently failed to account for Stoner.

"That was totally my fault to not make that adjustment as a coach," he said. "We did a great job denying No. 5 (Burns). To give a kid 15 points in a quarter ... we talked about it all year long about identifying penetrators and identifying shooters. That was our downfall all year, really. Every loss we had was a lack of communication, not identifying shooters. I could have helped them make that adjustment; that's on me."

Late the quarter, Hayden Bruhn made a driving shot, and Diego Sanchez scored on a steal to make it 33-24.

The Silverbacks scored just five points during the quarter.

Logan expanded its lead to 15 points in the final period, fueled largely by 6-foot-2 freshman center Mason Wallin and his eight points. Wallin also grabbed a bunch of rebounds.

"I was really impressed with him during warm-ups," Zeller said of Wallin. "That big guy may be a freshman, but he's got hop. It showed he has some drive."

Javeion Scales led the Silverbacks with 11 points Saturday. Legacy, based out of Albuquerque, ended its season with a 22-6 record.

Zeller admitted his team wasn't at full strength. Starters Daniel Tavarez and Scales were slowed by knee or ankle injuries they suffered during the previous week's district tournament. Another player, Landon Gates, was on crutches.

"At this time of year, you have to be on top of your game," Zeller said. "There's three things that can stop you from winning - a negative attitude, sickness or injuries. We were bitten by the injury bug."

 
 
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