Logansport girls basketball coach Jerry Hoover knew McCutcheon would be a tough out in sectional play.
The Berries drew the Mavericks in the first round of the Class 4A Logansport Sectional Tuesday night.
In a matchup probably more befitting of a sectional final, the Berries were able to jump out to a big lead early and pull away late in a 60-49 win over the Mavericks.
As often is the case with Class 4A Sectional 7, it doesn’t get any easier for the Berries (20-2) the rest of the way, starting with Harrison at 8 p.m. on Friday night. McCutcheon finishes 11-11. Marion faces Kokomo in the earlier semifinal Friday.
“Al Rhodes says this over and over again, ‘You can’t win the tournament unless you win the first game,’” Hoover said. “We won the first game so now we get a chance to see what we can do the rest of the tournament.”
Whitney Jennings hit her second 3 of the game to end the first quarter to give the Berries a quick 17-4 lead. A Jennings score on a fastbreak to open the second quarter made it 19-4.
Hoover said of the Mavericks’ slow start: “I think again the crowd really helped us early because they didn’t shoot well to start with.
“Once they started shooting they shot pretty well. But we had a 10-point lead on them and that’s the way it ended up.”
The Mavericks heated up from 3 and quickly got themselves back in the game. They hit four trifectas in a row, two by Gabby Gary and two by Becca Spitnaliak and all of a sudden it was a 24-23 game with 2:15 left in the half.
“We had a great start. They have good shooters and they came back and they shot the ball well and they made a run on us,” Jennings said. “We knew they were a good team. We played them the first game of the year and they didn’t have [Kerstyn] Lowery, which she’s a great player, so we knew it was going to be a battle.”