December 19, 2013

Berries' NCC win streak on the line against Tribe

No. 6 Logan hosts Anderson for key league game

By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune

---- — In the last few years the Anderson game been one of the most intriguing matchups of the season for Logansport’s girls basketball team.

It has also has decided the North Central Conference championship.

Class 4A No. 6 Logansport (7-0, 1-0 NCC) hosts Anderson (5-2, 2-0) for a 1:30 p.m. varsity tipoff on Saturday.

“Anderson is good, they’re really good, but we’re good too,” Logan coach Jerry Hoover said. “Wooden talks about the thrill of competition and getting ready where you’ve got two good teams where both have good players and both have good coaches and both have good situations. Hey, that’s what it’s about. That’s Indiana basketball.”

The Berries enter on a 15-game NCC winning streak. They are led by their No. 15, Whitney Jennings, who surpassed the 2,000-point career scoring mark in Tuesday’s 59-45 win at Harrison.

Only 27 Indiana high school girls basketball players have reached the 2,000-point mark. Jennings, with 2,022 points, is the 24th all-time leading scorer in state history seven games into her senior season.

“I didn’t really know I was close until last night,” Jennings said. “I think coming into high school I didn’t really have total point expectations so I probably have surpassed all of those that I set for myself.”

There are only three players ahead of Jennings on the all-time list that played at current Class 4A schools, led by South Bend Washington’s Skylar Diggins, who is third all-time at 2,790 points. Richmond’s Lisa Shepherd is the NCC’s all-time leading scorer with 2,140 points.

Caleb Springer is Logan’s overall all-time leading scorer with 2,042 points on the boys side. He is ranked 33rd all-time and there are 41 boys that have scored at least 2,000 points.

Hoover said Jennings is the first player he’s ever coached to reach the 2,000-point milestone.

“I think it’s just an indication of her overall ability and I’m happy for her,” he said. “Let’s not make any mistake about this. Who’s in the gym the most? Who spends the most time at it? I’m talking about year after year, day after day, month after month, week after week. Who has spent the most time? If there’s a lesson to be passed along to the younger players it’s that there are no free lunches in this world.

“I’ve been around some really good players. Because I was around the college game at Purdue we had good players and I saw good players. And then every place that I’ve gone that I’ve seen a good player I’ve asked about it, ‘well what about it?’ And invariable the word comes back that they spent the time at it to be good.”

Jennings is averaging 34.9 points, 7.3 assists, 7.3 rebounds and 6.1 steals per game this season. Nakeya Penny averages 16.6 ppg and 6.0 rpg. Maddie Dalton adds 5.9 ppg and 4.9 rpg, and Syd Bullard is at 5.8 ppg and 5.3 rpg.

The Berries will be without senior starter Katrina Neuendorf, Hoover said.

“We’re going to be short a player. Katrina has got a brother that is getting married on Saturday in Minnesota, so she can’t be here. She’s really coming along and playing very well and really helping us. We’re going to miss her. It just makes us short-handed,” he said.

Anderson’s two losses are to Class 4A No. 2 Lawrence North and North Central. The Indians have wins over Indianapolis Chatard, Muncie South, Muncie Central, Mount Vernon (Fortville) and Richmond. They are coming off an 84-33 drubbing of Richmond.

The Indians have seven players averaging over 5 ppg — Chelsea Bentley (14.6 ppg), Da’Sha Boyd (13.7), Ania Daniels (10.7), Dabronia Williams (9.1), Samia Carter (7.9), Jacie Dickerson (6.6) and Kez’Anique Gosha (5.6). They have five players averaging over 4 rebounds per contest, led by Shantez Goolsby with 4.8. Carter adds a team-high 5.3 apg and 2.4 spg.

They have been known in recent years for their pressure defense which leads to offense. They are fifth in Class 4A in scoring (72.0 ppg) while the Berries are fourth (72.9 ppg).

“We’re going to have to play our best game of the year to win,” Jennings said. “Especially lately we haven’t had a couple of good games. If we want to beat Anderson we’re going to have to by far play our best game of the year.

“I don’t know if they’ve been pressing as much this year as they have in years past. But their man-to-man halfcourt defense is always really good. Their guards are super quick and I know they’ll have one or two right on me. It’ll be a challenge but I think we’ll be ready.”

The Berries have won five straight against the Indians. The Berries trailed by 12 at one point in the first half and trailed 48-46 in the fourth quarter in last year’s contest at Anderson before ending the game with a 15-0 run over the last five minutes which included hitting all eight of their free throws down the stretch.

Hoover said the matchup has been one of the most fun ones to watch in recent seasons.

“It really has been in the last few years because we’ve been beating them,” he said. “But I don’t know what’s going to happen Saturday.”