A Logan-Rogersville team that had hit its stride leading up to the final couldn’t replicate that performance on Dec. 30 at JQH Arena.

The Wildcats became the latest side to try and hand a first loss of the season to Hartville, who came out on top 52-46 in the Blue Division title game of the Blue and Gold Tournament. 

“We didn’t play our best tonight,” L-R head coach John Schaefer said. “We made a lot of mistakes that were preventable, but they’re a good team and they’re tough. It takes a lot of energy to guard them, and our bench isn’t real deep; foul trouble was a problem. We kept it close, but when it came down to the wire, we had some opportunities to make some plays and didn’t get it done.”

After an entry pass into the post that was deflected and resulted in an easy layup for Josh Linehan, the Eagles responded with two buckets at the hoop that came too easily to double their lead to eight with 56 seconds left. Cade Blevins responded with a pair of free throws to make it a six-point game, which was as close as it got until the final horn sounded.

Trailing 27-20 at halftime, the Wildcats fought just to get even, finally able to seize level pegging as JJ O’Neal converted an offensive rebound into an easy putback and Blevins fed Linehan underneath to tie it at 32 as the beginning of the fourth quarter. It was a required comeback, though, spurred by miscues that caused the offense to bog down heavily late in the first quarter and into a portion of the second.

“We missed a ton of easy baskets, and in that game you’ve got to have all those,” Schaefer said. “But they’re as good as anybody we’ve played, Class 1 through 5.”

Blevins and Linehan carried the offense to the tune of 16 points each, while Cody Mahan concluded with a team-high 15 points for the Eagles, who earned their second Blue Division title after lifting the trophy in 1996.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, were seeking to become the most recent team in the history of the tournament, established in 1947, to win back-to-back titles in separate divisions after capturing the Gold Division with a 57-53 win over Parkview last year. 

Despite coming up short in the end, Logan-Rogersville, the Gold’s six-seed, pulled above .500 for the first time this year with a 3-1 showing. They knocked off the Blue’s No. 2 and 3 seeds in Nixa and Bolivar to reach the final. 

“We’ve had a good week and got ourselves to the point where we wanted to be,” Schaefer said. “I told them I was proud of them.”

L-R defeated Aurora 86-47 Friday night to improve to 7-5 and took on Hillcrest at home Tuesday night. They'll get Nixa next before hosting Marshfield on Jan. 21.

Bryan can be followed on Twitter @BryanEversonMF.

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