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February 15, 2014

Jennings, Berries again too much for Raiders

Logansport faces Marion tonight in sectional final.

In some ways the sectional game between Logansport and Harrison on Friday night mirrored the regular-season matchup between the two teams.

The Raiders again challenged Berries star guard Whitney Jennings with a stout man-to-man defense. While Jennings did not have the great shooting night that she is capable of, she still scored 37 points which was more than enough in the Berries’ 63-45 win at the Class 4A Logansport Sectional.

No. 11-ranked Logansport (21-2) faces Marion (11-10) at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the sectional final. Marion knocked off Kokomo 52-46 in the earlier semifinal Friday. Harrison finishes 7-14.

“It was kind of like our game in December. They just stuck with us the whole game and we were able to grind out the victory again,” said Jennings, who scored 39 points in Logan’s 59-45 win over Harrison on Dec. 17.

“We knew it was going to be a tough one. We’re getting everyone’s best shot so it’s just how it is. It’s one-and-done and no one wants to be done.”

Jennings shot 13 of 32 from the field (40.6 percent) and  11 of 14 from the foul line. She added seven assists, seven steals, six rebounds and two blocks.

“She played another very good game and she’s the reason why we’re in the final game,” Logan coach Jerry Hoover said.

Jennings took over the fourth quarter. After Harrison cut Logan’s lead to 51-41 with 3:35 left to play, Jennings made a pair of free throws, scored a three-point play, a steal and layup and then two more free throws to make it 60-43 with 1:30 left. She had a 17-point fourth quarter before exiting in the final minute.

“I wasn’t hitting my pullup jumper so I was just trying to get to the basket and finish and get fouled,” she said.

Jennings also got a lot of help from Madison Dalton. The 5-foot-9 freshman hit 4-of-5 3-pointers in the game for 12 points and added six rebounds.

“Dalton’s 3s were big,” Hoover said. “After the last game she was 0 for 8 and I told her she is a 50-percent shooter. Every time she misses one she’s got one coming. She had about eight coming for tonight and she got four of them back. She again is getting better at defending her position.”

The game was tied 12-all after one quarter when Jennings went on a quick 5-0 burst of her own after a pair of steals. Dalton then went to work, hitting three straight 3s to give the Berries a 27-16 lead midway through the second quarter. Logan led 33-23 at the half.

Dalton’s fourth 3 of the game gave the Berries a 45-29 lead with 7:20 left in the game. Two Jennings free throws made it 49-29 with 6:05 left.

Shailen Johnson scored 10 of her team-high 12 points over the next two and a half minutes to cut the lead down to 10 before Jennings again took over.

Nakeya Penny added 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in the win. Sydney Bullard and Samantha Kain chipped in two points apiece, with Bullard adding five rebounds and two blocks.

Claire Muller and Kaitlyn Carnahan each added 10 points for the Raiders. The Berries applied a box-and-one on Harrison leading scorer Autumn Ringen and held her to six points. Ringen, who will play at Division-II West Virginia State, added a game-high 14 rebounds.

“[Katrina] Neuendorf and [Kennedy] Curl kept their 17 ppg scorer [Ringen] to six,” Hoover said. “That took them out of their rhythm, too, because she is used to handling the ball and moving the ball and being a part of the offense. So with her almost completely out of the offense, they never got into any rhythm.”

The Berries, who earlier in the week recorded their third straight 20-win season and fourth in five years, will be competing in their eighth sectional final in the last nine years. They won sectional titles in 2007 and last year.

They’re playing a Marion squad they didn’t put away in the regular season until Karli Armstrong hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds of a 64-59 win on Jan. 17 at Bill Green Arena.

Marion recorded its first tournament win over Kokomo in girls basketball since 1982. The Giants haven’t won a sectional title since 1997.

“It should be a battle,” Jennings said. “They played extremely well against Kokomo tonight. I knew that was going to be a down-to-the-wire game and it was. It’s going to be a tough one tomorrow but we’re ready for the challenge.”

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