BY TRAVIS DAVID
SPRINGFIELD — In a game that will go down as one he will likely not forget for a long time, Logan Buhlig would probably like to erase parts of it.
The lone senior on the Monroe City boy’s basketball team, Buhlig struggled to find his shot Friday night in the Class 3 state semifinals against No. 5 Summit Christian Academy. The senior who entered the game with a team-best 41 made 3-pointers on the season, made just one of nine shots from the field — a bucket at the pait in the first quarter. Seven of his eight misses from the field came from behind the arc.
But yet, in typical Monroe City fashion, Buhlig found ways to help the Panthers move into Saturday night’s Class 3 state championship game.
Buhlig drew three charges and swatted away a pair of shots as the Panthers held SCA to 35 points — its third lowest output of the season — and 34 percent shooting from the field.
“He may not have put up a lot of stats like scoring tonight but he definitely helped us get this win tonight,” junior Kyle Hays said of his teammate. “Those charges that he took were turnovers and gave us the ball back. We take pride in our defense and ability to stand in there and take charges and Logan really stepped it up defensively for us tonight.”
The senior stated he knew that he could not sulk about a rare off-night shooting performance because too many others were depending on him.
“No matter how I play on the offensive end, I know that my team is always counting on me to be a leader on the defensive end of the court,” Buhlig said.
With Buhlig leading the charge defensively, the Panthers were able to hold one of SCA’s leading scorers Jared Gerdes to 15 points below his season average. The Eagles’ 6-foot-8-inch post player entered the game averaging just over 21 points per game. Gerdes exploded for 37 points in the Eagles state quarterfinal win last week. Friday night the man in the middle was limited to just six points.
“Our post players did a great job on him tonight,” Monroe City coach Brock Edris said. “Logan struggled offensively but he really stepped up on the other end of the floor for us again tonight. Now he has the extra opportunity tomorrow night and I would love to see him knock down those shots in JQH Arena.”
One of the charges Buhlig drew came in the final 90 seconds of regulation. The Panther senior stepped in front of SCA’s Griffin Kliewer — the Eagles’ leading scorer on the season with 23 points per game — with 1:16 left on the clock. The forced turnover allowed Monroe City to run its offense and settle for the final shot.
Buhlig also pulled down a team-best seven boards and came up with two steals.
As for Saturday, Buhlig said he just feels lucky to play his final high school game on the biggest of stages.
“Not many people get this opportunity and I am going to make the most of it,” the senior said. “It feels good to know when my last game will actually be and that it carries this kind of magnitude with it.”
The No. 3 ranked Panthers look to bring home their first boys basketball state championship Saturday night when they face No. 1 ranked Hartville at 6 p.m. Hartville won the Class 2 state championship last season and carries a 41-game winning streak into the contest.