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Longhorns rally past No. 1 Buffs

Posted Date: 02/07/2024

Longhorns rally past No. 1 Buffs

LOGAN - Logan junior Diego Sanchez was sidelined with an injury in virtually all of his team's previous clash against Melrose at the EPAC tournament. His presence Thursday showed how much the Longhorns missed him.

Sanchez scored 12 of his team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter to lead the No. 2-ranked Longhorns to a 61-53 comeback victory over the top-ranked Buffaloes in a key district game that featured 13 lead changes and several ties.

Mason Wallin scored 15 points for the Longhorns (19-2, 1-1 in district play). Hayden Bruhn added 14 points, and Brock Burns tallied 11.

Cy Draper led the Buffaloes (17-2, 1-1) with 16 points, and Michael Cardonita added 11.

Logan started fast and led 15-7 at one point in the first quarter.

Melrose rallied in the second period and led 29-27 at intermission and 43-39 after three quarters.

The Longhorns had to play second-stringers more because of foul trouble to several starters. Logan coach Kyle Griffiths said those players kept the game close, which was vital in setting up the comeback win.

"I trust those guys; they're great players, too," he said. "I don't think there's much difference when they go into the game than the starters in the game. We lose a little height, obviously, but they come in, work hard and defensively they're just as good as the starters. I was proud of the way they came in and fought when we needed it."

Griffiths added: "We knew we could play with them and knew we matched up well with them. We did a better job mentally of keeping ourselves together. At EPAC, we got down 14 points in the third quarter and had to fight back. Tonight, we kept it close. We didn't get into a big hole, and mentally that helped us a ton."

During Logan's previous game against Melrose on Jan. 13 in the EPAC tournament final, Sanchez smacked the back of his head on the floor during a scramble for the ball early in the first quarter. He left the game on wobbly legs with a concussion, and the Longhorns lost 57-56.

Sanchez's scoring outburst in the fourth quarter Thursday was part of a 17-3 run to turn a four-point Logan deficit into a 10-point lead.

Kaeden Stoner also scored seven points during the period.

Griffiths also credited his team's defense for the rally.

"We decided if we were going to get a win tonight, we had to pick our defense up," he said. "That was the key. We strung some stops together, and we hit some big shots. Diego hit a big three and had a big drive toward the end there. That really sealed it for us."

Melrose coach Drew Hatley was disappointed with his team's performance in the final period.

"We were up early in the fourth quarter and talked about what it was going to take to win down the stretch. We came out and gave them extra offensive rebounds in the first couple of possessions and bought them extra baskets.

"We just didn't compete down the stretch, turned the ball over," Hatley added. "We didn't look like the seasoned team I thought we would be with the guys who played in the semifinals last year. Give Logan all the credit, but we kinda shot ourselves in the foot in the fourth quarter."

Melrose closed the gap to 59-52 with 1:40 left. But Sanchez made two free throws a short time later. The Longhorns went into a spread offense to burn time off the clock that culminated with an inside bucket by Bruhn.