Pharos-Tribune

April 21, 2013

BOYS BASKETBALL: ‘A great career’

Antonio Penny headlines All-Loganland team

by Beau Wicker
Pharos-Tribune

— Antonio Penny had an outstanding basketball career at Logansport.

He was a dynamic performer throughout and stuffed the stat sheets in points, rebounds, assists and steals as a four-year starter for the Berries.

Logansport has had a boys basketball program for over 100 years, and Penny finishes as the program’s second all-time leading scorer. The 6-foot-2 point guard scored 1,542 points in his career.

He continually improved his level of play, and this season he averaged 20.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 3.3 steals per game. He led the famed North Central Conference in scoring three years in a row.

Penny came up his freshman season and it didn’t take too long for him to earn a starting role on a 15-6 team that included Nate Champion (Le Moyne) and Jared Jennings (Merchant Marine Academy). His sophomore season was a rebuilding 9-13 campaign. The Berries flipped their record the next year at 13-9 and were led by Penny and Jarod Schrock (Manchester). This season behind the 1-2 scoring punch of Penny and Jayson Higgins (Lake Forest College), the Berries nearly matched their record of a year ago with a 12-9 season, with the only difference being they were defeated in a sectional game on a fullcourt shot by McCutcheon’s Tre’Shon Heard that took a likely win away.

The Berries never did get past Kokomo the last four years, as the Wildkats continually had Top 10-ranked teams during that time. But the Berries did accomplish quite a bit. This season’s highlight was arguably a win over a strong New Castle team. Then again, the Berries walloped Marion 72-48 and have beaten the Giants two years in a row and three out of the last four.

Last season the Berries ended a six-game losing streak to Lafayette Jeff with a win over the Bronchos in sectional play. They nearly knocked off a No. 1 ranked Muncie Central team last year in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. They had a string of thrilling games against Anderson in Penny’s first three years, including wins his freshman and sophomore seasons. They recorded a big comeback win in their last game ever at the Wigwam in a game that marked Penny’s arrival to the varsity scene as a freshman. Penny’s Logan squads swept the county opponents during his four-year career, including a 57-56 win over a strong Pioneer squad this season in the county tournament.

“He just did a phenomenal job for us,” Logan coach Mark Victor said. “Ever since we brought him up as a freshman he handled the pressure extremely well. He showed great leadership and has great qualities that way. He got us a lot of places and we won a lot of games. He had a great career.

“He was very enjoyable to coach. He was a sponge and always wanted to be the best he possibly could on the court and off. What makes coaching enjoyable is having players like that.”

Penny will be remembered for his thrilling style of play that included spectacular finishes at and above the rim. In a good measure of just how valuable he was, Berry fans can ask themselves where they would have been without Penny the last three years.

Penny shot 44.4 percent from the field for the season. He took a step back at the foul line. He got there an impressive 8.6 times per game but made just 50.3 percent. He shot 62.5 percent at the line as a junior.

Penny is still undecided on where he will play college ball.

“I should be making a decision here in the next three or four weeks,” he said. “I’m going to let it play out. We’ll see what happens.”

The following are capsules of the rest of the All-Loganland first team in alphabetical order by last name.

Matt Dorris, Pioneer

Dorris and the Panthers were legitimate state championship contenders in Class A this year. They finished ranked No. 4 and were regional finalists. They won their fourth consecutive sectional title and went 21-4.

It was Dorris’ work in the post that kept the Panthers in the game with Triton in the regional final, despite a game for the ages by Triton’s Indiana All-Star, Clay Yeo, who poured in 35 points in the Trojans’ 53-41 win. Dorris posted 19 in the contest, and his bucket with 6:10 left in the contest brought Pioneer within 35-32 before Triton pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Dorris, a 6-foot-3 power forward, was a classic small-school post player who played bigger than his size would indicate he could in the paint. He was also a football standout for the Panthers, and his best sport might be track, where his top event is the 400-meter dash.

“He’s another four-year varsity letterwinner, like Brandon, who has such a good attitude and is a well-rounded young man,” Pioneer coach Pat Skaggs said. “He just meant so much to the program, what he could do around the basket. Sometimes he was undersized inside, but he’s such a good athlete. Track is his main thing. He’s a track runner who plays basketball. Fortunately for us he was always wearing Pioneer colors.”

Dorris averaged 12.9 ppg this season and shot 61 percent from the field. He finished his career with 934 points, sixth all-time in school history.

“He was all-conference for three years like Scruggs. He was Mr. Consistent for three years,” Skaggs said. “He scored in double figures for three years and would get 6 of 7 rebounds per game and a couple blocks. Where he improved his game more than anything this year was he was second on the team in assists this year. He averaged 3.5 assists and turned into a good passer in the low post as well. He was also versatile on defense. He could guard on the perimeter and defend on the block as well.”

Quentin Douglass, Caston

The Comets enjoyed another successful season this year thanks in no small to the play of their dynamic point guard, Quentin Douglass.

The 6-foot junior averaged 15.6 points, 4.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game this season. He shot 53.7 percent from the field.

The Comets went 15-4 this season after an 0-3 start. Three of their losses this season were to Pioneer. They went 6-1 in MWC play.

The Comets have won 14, 16 and 15 games the last three seasons with Douglass in the backcourt and Ben Snyder as the coach.

“I thought he took that next step as a player,” Snyder said of Douglass. “As a junior, he was our floor leader and coach on the floor. He was great at getting other people involved. There were times when we’d be struggling where he put us on his back. That’s the key of a person taking that next step from good to really good is when they can win a game without even scoring by making everyone else around them better, and when the other guys are struggling to do the next part which is taking over.

“He’ll be right in the mix of being one of the top three or four players in the conference next year. Having him back for another year is exciting for us as a coaching staff. He’s lived in the gym and weight room since the season’s been over. The coaches around the area see us as having a drop-off next year, and he’s looking at that as a challenge rather than an obstacle, and obviously that’s encouraging.”

Jayson Higgins, Logansport

After missing his entire junior regular season with a shoulder injury, Higgins certainly made the most of his one full season suiting up for the Berries’ varsity.

In fact, the 6-3 shooting guard was one of the top long-range bombers in the state.

Higgins finished second in the state in made 3-pointers (78), as he trailed only Caston’s Jake Howdeshell in what was certainly a memorable seasons for area jump shooters.

Higgins canned 78 of 169 of his 3-point attempts (46.2 percent), which was third among the top 10 3-point marksmen in the state according to VarVee.com.

Higgins averaged 15.0 ppg in his only full varsity season. He shot 47.9 percent from 2-point range and was 21 of 27 from the foul line (77.8 percent) for the season.

“It was tough having him miss his entire junior year. He had only one year of varsity and was able to do a lot of phenomenal things,” Victor said. “In the county tournament he was on fire and was the championship MVP of the tournament. He has a sweet shot and touch.

“It’s too bad he couldn’t play for us his junior year. I think he would have been above and beyond where he was if he would have been able to play last year. He worked on the other aspects of his game and got better defensively as the year went along, and he really bought into the team concept.”

Higgins has verbally committed to play basketball at Lake Forest College, an NCAA Division III school in suburban Chicago.

Jake Howdeshell, Caston

A strong argument could be made that Howdeshell was the top 3-point shooter in the state. His numbers speak for themselves.

Howdeshell made a state-best 91 3-pointers on the season and shot 51.4 percent from behind the arc, which also was tops among the state’s top bombers.

His 91 3-pointers this season was good enough for eighth most in state history according to the HickoryHusker Book of High School Basketball Records. His school record of 10 3-pointers in a game set against South Newton this year ties him for 10th all time in state history.

The 5-10 senior guard averaged 18.0 ppg to lead the Comets. He shot 52.3 percent from the field overall and 37 of 43 from the foul line (86.0 percent).

“The kid lived in a gym,” Snyder said. “He broke all of his records this year from last year. Last year he set the 3-point record at 82 and he made 91 this year. He holds all the shooting records at Caston.

“He was a much, much improved defensive player on the ball which allowed us to get after it more in the second half of the season.”

Howdeshell has signed to play at IUK, an NAIA school.

Austin Keisling, Cass

The 5-9 junior guard averaged 16.5 ppg to lead the Kings, who went 10-11 this season.

Certainly one of the highlights for the Kings was winning at Pioneer on Jan. 11. They also beat Caston and Winamac this season. They had a chance in just about every one of their games, including a close loss to Tipton and two close losses to Logansport.

Keisling added 2.5 assists and 3 rebounds per game this season. He shot 45 percent from the field, 75 percent from the foul line and 28 percent from 3-point range.

“He was consistent for us all year,” Cass coach Jon Kitchel said. “He averaged over 16 a game and there weren’t very many games he was under double figures a game, and at the same time he didn’t have any 25-point games. He was consistent all year and was a good shooter outside and could score inside. He’s a heady player.”

Brandon Scruggs, Pioneer

Scruggs, like Dorris, greatly contributed to the Panthers’ four sectional championships in a row. Scruggs was named the Midwest Conference Player of the Year this year for the MWC champions.

The Panthers had one of their best teams ever this season. They enjoyed their best year record-wise since the 1975 team went 19-3.

Scruggs averaged 14.8 points, 6.9 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game this season. He knocked down 61 3-pointers, which tied him for 11th in the state. He connected on 39.1 percent of his 3-pointers and shot 82.6 percent from the foul line (76 of 92).

“He’s the ultimate competitive kid,” Skaggs said. “He’s playing for keeps every time. He’s just a great kid. He’s put a lot of time into basketball. He was named to the top 100 senior list, was the conference MVP. He’s very deserving of all of that. He got on such a roll for us the last six or seven games. He was just outstanding. He’s planning on going to Franklin College and playing basketball there.”

Scruggs certainly earned the status of being a Pioneer legend in a sectional win over Caston, scoring 36 points on 8-of-12 shooting from behind the arc. He further cemented that status in a regional win over Gary 21st Century when he had 19 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.

Scruggs finished his career with 932 points, seventh all-time in school history.

Zach Shidler, Winamac

Shidler, a North All-Star selection in football, was also a standout basketball player for the Warriors.

“He was a four-year starter for us, started 85 games in a row,” Winamac coach Kyle Johnson said. “He improved his offensive output as needed. He finished with 899 career points. Obviously he was our offensive leader and our defensive leader. We’re definitely going to miss him.”

The 5-11 senior point guard averaged 16.0 points, 3.5 rebounds 3.4 assists and 3.0 steals for the Warriors. The highlight of the young Warriors’ season was their strong finish, as they defeated Rensselaer, North Judson and Hebron and advanced to the sectional championship game, where they lost to Boone Grove. They finished 10-13.

“It was nice to have a point guard who led by actions and led by voice and who had been through all the wars,” Johnson said. “We’re definitely going to miss him at Winamac. He was the heart of what we had going on. He kept us running.”

Carter Skaggs, Pioneer

The 6-foot-5 sophomore averaged 18.7 ppg to lead the Panthers. He canned 63 3-pointers on the season, which ranked him tied for seventh in the state.

The lanky left-hander with a quick release is also known to throw down some slam dunks.

He shot 48.2 percent from the field overall on the season, including 63 of 171 from 3-point range (36.8 percent). He went 75 of 82 from the foul line (91.5 percent).

“Carter, I would like to think he obviously matured some since his freshman year,” Pat Skaggs said. “Obviously there was a big difference in his play this year. I thought at times last year as a freshman everything was outside the 3-point line. This year he made 102 2-point baskets. The biggest difference was his ability to score inside improved over his freshman year. He still shot 37 percent from 3, and it wasn’t like he was a surprise like he was as a freshman. This year he was a marked man.”

Carter added 3.5 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.5 assists per game.

“I felt like he did improve on both ends of the floor,” Pat Skaggs said. “Obviously there’s plenty of room for him to improve. He needs to work on his ball-handling and be able to play with his back to the basket and score off the dribble.

“There are things he needs to improve on the next two years to be a solid, complete player who aspires to play at the next level.”

Pat Skaggs will be hired as Logansport’s coach pending school board approval at the April 29 meeting. Carter is set to suit up for the Berries next season. He leaves Pioneer with a two-year total of 773 points, good enough for 10th all time in school history.

Beau Wicker is the sports editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5113 or beau.wicker@pharostribune.com.