by Beau Wicker
Logansport’s boys basketball team fell in a 20-point hole early and never could quite climb out at Anderson Friday night.
The Berries had their chances down the stretch but came up short in their North Central Conference opener in an 80-68 loss.
The Berries dropped to 5-1 and 0-1 in NCC play while the Indians improved to 2-3 and 1-0.
Playing short-handed without starting point guard A.J. Smith and the 11.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game that he has provided, the Berries had a rocky start to the game in their first contest away from the Berry Bowl and found themselves in a 35-15 hole just 11 minutes in.
“We ran into a buzzsaw,” Logan coach Pat Skaggs said. “I didn’t think we played very well. I think we got caught up trying to play fast with them early and I don’t think that would be good even if we had A.J.”
The Berries seemed to settle down and start playing and got to within 43-28 at halftime. They shot 36.7 percent from the field in the half and had 10 turnovers. Meanwhile the Indians hit 5 of 14 from 3-point range to help them out to the early advantage.
Skaggs made a defensive adjustment in the second half and his team started getting stops more frequently. They got as close as 52-46 late in the third quarter, completing what was a 31-17 run over an 11-minute stretch since the early 20-point deficit. But Anderson closed the quarter strong with six straight to take a 58-46 lead into the fourth.
Skaggs noted his team allowed a couple putback baskets in the third quarter or they would have had even a better defensive quarter. That continued into the fourth as Kobe Clay had back-to-back putback baskets to open the frame for the Indians to give them a 62-50 lead.
The Berries allowed 22 offensive rebounds, were outrebounded 46-41 for the contest and were outscored 21-10 in second-chance points.
“I thought Anderson just killed us on the boards,” Skaggs said. “It seemed like they got an offensive rebound every other time down the floor.
“I thought that was the whole difference in the game.”
The Indians took a 70-57 lead on a Kenya Wilkerson basket with 2:30 left to play. But the Berries wouldn’t go away quietly.
Two free throws by Carter Skaggs, a slam by Jalen Adaway following a steal by Matt Jennings and a basket by Skaggs cut the lead to 70-63 with 1:15 remaining.
Fresan Reese scored on a press-beater for the Indians before an Adaway 3-pointer cut the lead to 72-66 with 50 seconds left.
Grant Bennett missed the front end of a 1-and-1 for the Indians but the Berries failed to grab the rebound and Wilkerson scored back-to-back baskets to put the game out of reach.
“It’s a learning situation for our guys and this game shouldn’t do anything but help us,” Pat Skaggs said. “We’re not going to walk out of here with our heads down. A lot of times they say it’s easier to learn things from a loss than a win. We’ll just have to pull together as a team.”
The Berries were led in scoring by a pair of freshmen, as Adaway and Jennings each had 19 points in the contest. Adaway added 11 rebounds, five blocks and threw down three dunks. Jennings was 3 of 6 from 3-point land, 8 of 8 from the foul line and added two steals.
Carter Skaggs, who entered as the 11th leading scorer in the state, had an off shooting night but still managed to score 18 points and pull down 10 rebounds. He was 6 of 13 from the floor, 1 of 6 from 3-point range and 5 of 9 from the foul line.
Andrew Wamsley was limited to just 16 minutes due to foul trouble and he finished with six points and five rebounds. Travis Palmer chipped in four points and two steals.
“I thought our two freshmen did some nice things on offense. They’re still getting their feet wet,” Pat Skaggs said. “Obviously Carter didn’t have as good of a game as maybe what he’s had or I would like for him to. Of course Wamsley was in foul trouble the whole night. Palmer gave us some quality minutes and just plays his fanny off out there for us. He’s got a great motor in him. But Anderson was just a little too much for us tonight.”
The Berries turned the ball over 18 times and hit 5 of 15 from 3-point range. Their coach would have liked to have seen a more patient night offensively overall.
“I thought our shot selection wasn’t very good. Part of that was due to their pressure,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to get through these growing pains to get where we’re going to get.”
Wilkerson and Bennett scored 15 apiece to lead the Indians. Wilkerson added five assists and four steals and Bennett had five rebounds and four assists. Clay finished with a double-double of 14 points and 12 boards. Reese had 11 points, and Thomas Wells chipped in eight.
Logan hosts McCutcheon (5-0) tonight.