by Beau Wicker
A big crowd was on hand for the Logansport girls basketball team’s senior night against Twin Lakes Friday night.
While the Class 4A No. 11 Berries didn’t quite put on the offensive show they normally do, their efforts were still enough for a 56-37 win over the Indians at the Berry Bowl.
Neither team could quite find their shooting touch for much of the night, and Logan coach Jerry Hoover said all of the bad winter weather that has led to a plethora of snow days at school, missed practices and postponed games had to contribute.
“A 15-day layoff, you hope it isn’t going to show up but it did show up. It’s just the way it is,” Hoover said.
Miss Basketball candidate Whitney Jennings just missed a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. She added four steals.
She sank four of her patented pullup jumpers, had two steal and layups, scored on an and-one in transition and sunk a deep 3 in the win.
But she was not happy with her final totals of 8 of 24 shooting including 1 of 5 from 3 and 4 of 8 from the free-throw line.
“Not necessarily the night I wanted to have, but we won and that’s all that matters,” she said. “I’m in a little shooting slump right now, I think, but the good part is we have a game tomorrow and I can try to redeem myself. So it’s all good.”
Jennings was certainly not alone on having an off shooting night. Logan shot just 20 for 61 from the field (32.8 percent) as a team, while Twin Lakes was just 15 of 51 (29.4 percent). Hoover was happy with the shots his squad was able to get, but it shot just 6 of 23 from 3. Twin Lakes was worse at 1 of 16.
But the Indians (8-10) were able to hang around most of the game and trailed just 42-31 after a Kassie Hunt basket to open the fourth quarter.
The Berries (15-2) then went on a 6-0 run over the next three minutes. Madison Dalton hit her third 3 of the game, Sydney Bullard scored on an assist by Nakeya Penny and Penny added a free throw.
Hunt banked in a 3 to cut the lead back to 48-36, but after a pair of Jennings jumpers the lead was pushed back to 52-37. Jennings knocked down a pair of free throws in the one-and-bonus with 1:00 left to make it 54-37.
Penny added 18 points and four rebounds in the win. Dalton had nine points on 3 of 8 shooting from 3 and added four boards.
Senior Katrina Neuendorf hit a 3 to open the game for the Berries. Senior Samantha Kain added four rebounds, as did Bullard. Karli Armstrong hit a 3 in the first half that gave the Berries an early 19-6 lead, and they led 28-18 at halftime.
Laurhen Pickett led the Indians with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Hunt also had a double-double with 11 points and 12 boards.
The Berries opened the game with a box-and-one on Pickett before playing more fullcourt press, which Hoover later regretted.
“We started out in that combination defense and got to pressing and got Pickett started. I second-guess myself. I think we would have been better off to stay in the halfcourt defense the whole game and let her fight the halfcourt, because she did not play well when we were in the halfcourt defense,” he said. “The first quarter, last quarter, she got two, and in the middle quarters she got 16. And she’s the person you’ve got to stop.
“I thought both Neuendorf and [Kennedy] Curl did a pretty good job on her. She got a few I don’t want to say lucky baskets, but they were probably lucky baskets. I’ve got to look at the tape but I thought we boxed off better. I saw Nakeya boxing off, I saw Syd boxing off, I saw Curl boxing off, and I saw Kain boxing off. We’ve been working on that.”
Hoover also credited the big crowd in the win. While the Berries have grown accustomed to playing in front of large crowds, their opponents often are not.
“Twin Lakes didn’t shoot any better than we did and I saw them play last night [in a 56-53 win over Winamac], and I’ll tell you what got them, the crowd got them. This place was wall-to-wall and they don’t play in that environment ever, and when they get in that kind of environment it’s tough,” he said. “If we hadn’t had that crowd tonight and they get a hot hand and get going, it would have been a different ballgame.”
Twin Lakes certainly looked like a much improved team from last season when Jennings recorded a quadruple-double of 40 points, 12 assists, 12 steals and 10 rebounds in a 83-27 win. The Indians didn’t make it near as easy for Jennings to totally dominate the game.
“I felt like we did a lot better job containing Whitney,” Twin Lakes coach Brad Bowsman said. “If she made some kind of move we had somebody ready for the spin move. We did a pretty good job there. We played last night and I thought our girls did a good job of playing a late game last night of turning around and playing another game on Friday night. We’ve got some potential there when we get in the sectional of having that happen.”
While Jennings might be the best offensive player in the state, she might be the best defensive guard in the state as well. She had a big hand in the Berries winning the turnover battle 19 to 5, but Bowsman’s daughter, senior point guard Courtney Bowsman, had just one turnover to go with four points while facing Jennings’ defensive pressure in the Berries’ zone.
“I thought Courtney did a nice job of taking care of the basketball. I thought we did a good job of keeping it away from Whitney on the defensive end,” Bowsman said. “Of course we don’t want her to have it on the offensive end either, but if she’s guarding somebody we don’t want her to be on the ball. We want to get the ball away from her and I thought we did a good job of that, too.
“Logan missed almost a whole week of practices, we missed some. We played a game last night, legs were tired probably. But all in all, I felt like the caliber of team we played tonight, we stepped up and tried to contain her. I just felt like on the offensive end we didn’t do a real good job of catching passes or getting rebounds. A lot of times balls just hit us in the hands and we just fumbled it out of bounds.”
While it was an emotional night for the Berries, Bowsman didn’t need to wipe away any tears for having to coach against Jennings the final time. Twin Lakes became another team the Berries have swept during Jennings’ four-year career, although they needed a miracle win on the road her freshman season. In fact the last time Twin Lakes beat Logan was during Jennings’ cousin Betsy Adams’ senior year of 2008 when the Indians were ranked No. 1 in Class 3A and swept the Berries in a pair of games.
Said Bowsman: “I told her, I said, hey, congratulations. You know I’m glad I’m not going to have to see you out here anymore. I’m looking forward to seeing you play — at Iowa.”
Although it was Jennings’ final regular-season game in the Berry Bowl barring any late schedule changes, the Berries were awarded to host Class 4A Sectional 7 again this year after McCutcheon’s court was damaged due to a sprinkler pipe break during sub-zero weather conditions.
Jennings said she and her teammates appreciate the fan support.
“There was a great turnout by our community and it meant a lot to me and I’m sure our other seniors to have that turnout. I’ve had great support here the last four years and the numbers have rose every year as far as attendance,” she said. “I want to thank our community for supporting us. It’s been a great four years and hopefully we’ve got a little bit left in us.”
The Berries travel to Huntington North for a 1:30 p.m. game today.