by Beau Wicker
Evansville Memorial was in position against Logansport to pull off the biggest upset of when these two schools have met in athletics since the 1979 baseball state championship.
But this time Logansport had the superstar player, and it was the Berries that again prevailed.
The Berries survived a scare with a huge run to end the game in a 67-51 win over the Tigers on Friday at the Twin Lakes Holiday Tournament.
The Class 4A No. 6 Berries (9-0) remained in the winner’s bracket and will face Class 3A No. 6 Western (9-1) at 11 a.m. today in a semifinal game.
Miss Basketball candidate Whitney Jennings had 40 points, seven steals, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks to lead the Berries to the win.
She had just 12 points and one steal at the half when the Berries trailed 36-26 at the break. She scored 16 in the third quarter to put Logan ahead 49-48 after three and an additional 12 in the fourth for a 28-point second half.
“They were shooting lights out in the first half and we couldn’t get anything to fall. So we knew we were going to get back into the game in the second half, it was just a matter of bringing the energy up and hitting some more shots,” Jennings said. “Coming out of halftime, Coach Hoover said our energy was really bad, and he just said if we want to win this game we’ve got to pick up our energy and that’s what we did in the second half on defense and offense.”
Evansville Memorial (4-4) continued its strong play to start the second half, and the Tigers took a 45-31 lead with 5:10 left in the third quarter on a putback basket by Stephanie Sherwood.
But the Berries took over after that, ending the game with a 36-6 run over the final 11:35. The run started with an amazing basket by Jennings when she spun one in off the glass, drew a foul and hit the free throw with 3:35 left in the third.
She also scored on two steals and layups, Karli Armstrong hit a 3 and Nakeya Penny scored on a jumper and later a basket in the post on an assist by Jennings with 3 seconds left in the quarter to give the Berries their first lead since midway through the first quarter.
Jennings opened the scoring in the fourth with a steal that led to a three-point play. She struggled with her perimeter shooting for much of the game, but she hit one from NBA range that bounced in with 6:55 remaining that gave the Berries a 55-48 lead.
Penny later had an athletic three-point play when her high-arching shot on a drive bounced high off the rim and into the basket, and she hit her free throw to give Logan a 61-48 lead with 2:57 left.
Penny scored on a drive and Jennings followed with another steal and layup to make it 66-48 with 1:35 to go, as the Tigers didn’t score in the fourth quarter until there was 1:20 remaining. Their drought spanned almost 10 minutes.
“I thought Logansport did an excellent job. They stepped it up defensively,” Memorial coach Bruce Dockery said.
The Berries made a defensive adjustment in the second half, going to a box-and-one on Sherwood, who had 20 points in the first half but was held to just three in the second.
Katrina Neuendorf is one of the players Logan relies on to play box-and-one defense, but she’s missing this weekend’s tournament due to a family event. So it was Maddie Dalton, Kennedy Curl and Armstrong that drew the assignment.
“We started out with Dalton doing it. Dalton hadn’t practiced that way very much,” Hoover said. “We have two people, Kennedy plays it in practice and Neuendorf plays it in practice. Kennedy did a better job, and then Karli Armstrong came in and helped us in that regard because she played that position some and she helped us.”
Penny had 18 points, four boards and three assists in the win. Armstrong had six points on 2 of 3 shooting from beyond the arc. Curl added a team-high seven rebounds to go with a pair of free throws.
The Berries shot just 24 of 65 from the field (36.9 percent) for the game. Jennings finished 16 of 32 from the field which included 10 of 15 shooting in the second half. But she only made 6 of her 11 free throws in the contest. Penny finished just 6 of 20 from the field and the rest of the team was a combined 2 of 13.
“I didn’t know if we could come back or not, I really didn’t,” Hoover said. “Our energy level was not very good and we had the worst shooting night we’ve had. If it hadn’t have been for Whit making all those steals ... and there was other good individual plays. The three girls that held Sherwood that had 20 in the first half. The three girls that played her out of that combination defense and they held her to three in the second half, that really helped too.”
Sherwood finished with a double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds. She was 4 of 6 from 3-point range including 4 of 5 in the first half. Jacqui Wandling also had a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards.
The Tigers outrebounded the Berries 50-33, including 17-12 on the offensive glass. But they committed 26 turnovers and shot just 21 of 56 from the field (37.5 percent).
They were also short-handed without their two tallest players on the roster, 6-3 starter Emily Sullivan (concussion) and 6-2 backup Jo Carver (knee scope).
“I don’t think it made any difference the way Logansport played in the second half, but we’ve got two post players out now,” Dockery said. “We’ve got our 6-3 kid who’s really a good player, so we had some inexperience out there. But we had some experienced ball players breaking under the pressure too. It’s hard to beat a team like Logansport. Coach Hoov does a heck of a job."
Dockery, who is the 11th winningest coach in state history 411 wins in 26 seasons, was impressed with Jennings and the Berries.
“I thought they did a nice job of getting other people involved offensively which gave us some problems. You’re never going to key on Whitney. You just hope that she doesn’t have a big night where she scores 50 or 60," he said. "But I think a real tribute to her as a guard is she got a lot of people involved. When you get more than one or two scoring than it really stretches you. Yeah, Logansport did an excellent job in the second half.”
Western defeated Indianapolis Cathedral 38-26 earlier on Friday. On the other side of the bracket, Class 3A No. 5 Western Boone defeated Taylor 51-25, and Carroll topped Twin Lakes 45-36.
If the Berries win against Western, they’ll play in the 8 p.m. final. If they lose, they’ll play in the 6 p.m. third-place game. Both games are at Twin Lakes High School.
It’s the 12th time in the last 13 years that Logansport is competing at the Twin Lakes Holiday Tournament. The Berries skipped last season to compete in the Hall of Fame Tournament. The only year the Berries won it was Jasmine Penny’s senior year in 2009-10. Hoover wasn’t around for the final because he was ejected during the Evansville Memorial game in the semifinal after picking up his second technical foul. He says it’s the only time in his career he has been ejected from a game. Evansville Memorial won the Class 3A state championship in 2011.
Back in 1979, Logansport upset Don Mattingly’s Evansville Memorial team 6-5 in 10 innings in the baseball state championship game. The Berries ended a 59-game winning streak for the Tigers, who had won the 1978 state title. Some of the heroes in that season for Logan were Mark Snyder, Barry Bowyer, Darr Shively, Eric Sweet, Brad Platt, Barry Platt, Eric Kinnaman, Jeff Ball, Tim Grandstaff and Steve Zinsmaster. The Berries won their third state title in five years that season and finished 29-4. They won their fourth state title in 1991 led by John Curl, Matt Jones, Willy Hilton, Ryan Conrad, Greg Diekman and company.