by Beau Wicker
The Logansport boys basketball team’s win over New Castle last weekend might have been the Berries’ biggest of the season to date.
The Berries (9-6, 2-2 North Central Conference) will try to back it tonight when they visit the historic Muncie Fieldhouse to take on the Muncie Central Bearcats (5-10, 0-4).
There have been several close calls and some not so close, but the Berries haven’t defeated the Bearcats since the 1998-99 season, in a game at the Muncie Fieldhouse.
Last year the Berries took the Bearcats down to the wire at the Super Ball Invitational at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Brock Armstrong’s 3-point attempt that would have tied the game against the then Class 3A No. 1 Bearcats was just off the mark, and Muncie was able to hold on. The Bearcats went on to run the table in NCC play.
This season the Bearcats are off to their worst start since they opened 4-9 three years ago. But that season they went on to be a regional finalist in Class 4A.
“Going to Muncie, it’s been awhile since we won over there, and so it’d be nice to do that,” Logan coach Mark Victor said. “I know they’re struggling a bit this year, but they’re still going to be tough on their home court. Last year it went down to the wire and two years ago over there it went down to the wire when Austen Hildebrand passed up a shot and tried to get it to Antonio [Penny]. So we’ve had some good battles with them the last couple years.”
Victor said the Bearcats have played better as the season has gone along.
“They played Noblesville pretty tough, they played Jay County pretty tough. Those are two quality opponents, so maybe they’re getting better at the right time of the year and hopefully we are, too,” he said. “We don’t have to match up with the big post players like they had last year.
“They’re going to be good. I know they’re struggling record-wise. They’ve got the [Kaleb] Mallory kid at the point who’s tough for them. Travis Woods is a kid who hurt us down the stretch last year in the last couple minutes of the game. The game’s hanging in the balance, and he ran off six points in a row at the end that kind of sealed the deal for them. But we’re going to have to key on those two guys and rebound and play good defense, take care of the basketball on the other end and get some good looks. Patience-wise I thought we did a nice job of that last week.”
Penny had 24 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals in last week’s win over New Castle. He was 11 of 17 from the field.
The 6-foot-2 senior point guard has scored 1,415 points for his career. He enters tonight’s game 44 points shy of passing Danny Farrell for second all-time on Logan’s career scoring list.
The Berries defeated New Castle with assistant coach Jay Jones at the helm, as Victor served a one-game suspension for being ejected from the game at Richmond.
“Yeah, there was a lot of adversity there, and I thought our kids handled it extremely well,” Victor said. “We were a little concerned going in, coach Jones, coach [Eric] Wiederhoeft and coach [Matt] Lange were talking, and the kids just went out and battled and found a way to pull it out. That was great. They’re character kids, they’re quality kids, and they did a great job last Friday night.”
Cass (7-7, 1-3 MIC) at Peru (7-6, 4-0 MIC)
The Kings have a chance to play spoiler as the Bengals stand atop alone the Mid-Indiana Conference standings.
“They’re a surprise team and getting better as the season goes along,” Cass coach Jon Kitchel said. “Their losses have been to really good opponents.”
The Tigers have won four games in a row over Oak Hill, Maconaquah, Taylor and Western. They also have an MIC win over Eastern.
“The key to their team is [Luke] Primerano,” Kitchel said. “He’s a really good athlete and basketball player. He’s a slasher type and shoots the outside jumper, too. They’ve got a big kid in the middle, [Joe] Comerford, who’s a nice player who has been playing better as the season goes on. We’ve got a matchup problem with their big boy inside [6-foot-10 sophomore Seth Adelsperger], but other than that we match up pretty well. He’s young, but he’s still 6-10. We didn’t do a very good job on Maconaquah’s big boy, [6-9 Micah] Pier. This kid isn’t Pier, but he’s still 6-10.”
The Kings snapped a four-game skid with a lopsided win at Clinton Central last Saturday night. They host Winamac (5-7) this Saturday night.
“We’ll have to be ready to play. I think they’re better than they were last year even though they graduated some guys,” Kitchel said. “They’re fairly athletic and have a couple good shooters. We’ll have to play awfully well.
“I’m satisfied with our defense for the most part. Offensively always the part we struggle with is knocking down shots at key times. Against Maconaquah when it got down below two minutes we missed a shot, free throws, a layup and we had to foul. We missed two easy shots and had to foul and they hit their free throws. We need to play a full 32 minutes.”
Pioneer (12-3, 4-0 MWC) at N. White (6-8, 2-2 MWC)
The Panthers have moved back up to No. 7 in Class A in this week’s AP poll. They’ll try to stay ahead of the rest of the pack in the Midwest Conference race tonight at North White.
“North White is a vastly improved team over last year,” Pioneer coach Pat Skaggs said. “They’re a lot more athletic. They’ll play seven, eight, nine kids. The Buschman kid is an excellent 3-point shooter. The Ruemler kid can score inside and outside. The Fleck kid does a nice job at the point. They have one or two freshmen who start from time to time. They’re both good athletes. They like to get up and down the floor. I’m sure they’ll present a challenge, especially playing over there.”
The Panthers have won four games in a row, including sweeping Caston and Rossville last weekend.
“We were lucky to get out of Rossville with the win,” Skaggs said. “Brandon Scruggs hit an outstanding 3-point shot right at the buzzer. Matt Dorris really played well and had 20 points.”
Argos (4-11) at Caston (11-5)
The Comets bounced back from a loss at Pioneer with a seemingly ugly win at Faith Christian last weekend.
But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Caston coach Ben Snyder said he’ll take a defensive struggle any time.
“Those games are pretty to me,” he said. “I’d rather win a defensive battle than win 75-74. To me, that’s a struggle defensively. That would bother me more.”
Snyder is concerned about the Dragons’ inside game.
“They’ve got Carter inside who’s 6-6. They’ve got Rice at 6-3. Cataldo is a third-year starter at guard,” he said. “I saw them play earlier and it was a struggle against West Central. I saw them the other night and they looked like a totally different team. I was impressed. They’ll give us all we can handle and then some.”
The Comets turn around and host Wabash (4-9) on Saturday night.
“Athletes. The top five athletes on the court will all be in a different color uniform,” Snyder said of the Apaches. “They’ll pressure fullcourt the entire game and trap. We’ll get the shots we want if we take care of the basketball. If not it’ll turn out to be a similar situation where they went on a 20-0 run and beat us last year. They’re a team of runs. They can go on a 12-0 run in a minute, 30.”
N. Judson (3-7) at Winamac (5-7)
Winamac is coming off a lopsided win over West Central last weekend.
“It was just finally a very unselfish game by my team, lots of assists, lots of extra passes, we rebounded the ball, we took care of the basketball,” Winamac coach Kyle Johnson said. “Getting our first Midwest Conference win was huge. We’ll just keep trying to play spoiler as we go through the conference.”
The Warriors snapped a 13-game losing streak against the Bluejays three weeks ago with a 57-55 win on the road.
“If I had my choice I’d sure like that streak to run in the opposite direction for several years,” Johnson said.
Winamac travels to Cass Saturday night to face the Kings.
“They’ve got it all,” Johnson said. “They’ve got an inside presence, they’ve got guards that are great handling the basketball. It’ll be a very different game of what we see Friday night and our game plan is going to be a lot different. I look forward to it. This is a team that beat one of our conference foes in Pioneer and not many people have done that.”