First-half lull costs Buffs

Ryan Fikany shoots a short-range shot in the first half of Thursday’s Region A semifinal at Logan. The Foxes defeated Grady 65-59. (Courtesy photo: Scot Stinnett)

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

LOGAN — Sometimes it takes only a minute for a dream of reaching the state tournament to vanish. The Melrose Buffaloes held a lead for most of the first half in a Region A playoff game at Logan on Thursday.

But the host Longhorns used a 7-0 spurt at the end of the second quarter to turn the tide and pulled away for a 75-58 victory.

Logan (23-4) will advance to next week’s Class 1A state tournament in Albuquerque while Melrose (17-11) can only look forward to next year.

“We pressed them a little bit there and they turned the ball over — and we were able to capitalize with a couple of layups,” Logan coach Billy Burns said. “We got the score going back our way and got a little momentum.”

It all started with the Buffaloes holding a 23-22 lead with about a minute left before intermission. A pair of free throws from Logan’s Josh Franco with 51 seconds left gave the Longhorns their first lead since the opening basket of the game.

A few ticks of the clock later, Logan’s Jake Abercrombie finished off a fastbreak with a layup and Drew Perez picked off a pass and went in for a layup with 15 seconds remaining.

Melrose would cut the lead to seven on a couple of occasions in the third period, but could get no closer.

“We just lost our composure for a little bit there,” Melrose coach Casey Pack said of the end of the second quarter. “Not doing a ball-fake to make something happen, not doing a dribble-penetrate to make something happen.

“That goes to the Logan defense too, they were a big part of that.”

Carlos Ruiz led Melrose with 23 points.

Abercrombie led Logan with 28 and Perez added 12.