by Beau Wicker
What a comeback by the Logansport Lady Berries.
The Berries had to fight tooth and nail for survival after falling in an early hole against Fort Wayne Snider in a Class 4A regional semifinal today.
The Berries kept chipping away and chipping away before they grabbed the lead late and held on in a thrilling 56-50 win over the Panthers in front of a huge crowd at historic Memorial Gym.
“We just knew we had to do it and we did it,” said Logan senior Madyson Price, who hit two huge 3-pointers during the second-half comeback. “It took all of us, and I’m just really proud of everyone.”
The Berries trailed late in the first half 26-13, and the deficit was 26-16 at halftime. With the way the game was being played, the 10-point halftime deficit felt like a bigger one.
But the high-octane Berries (25-1) got their offense going in the proper gear to start the second half and outscored Snider 22-16 in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 42-38 after three.
Whitney Jennings hit four straight free throws to open the fourth to tie the game at 42-all with 7:07 left. It was the first time the Berries didn’t trail in the contest since they led 9-5 midway through the second quarter before Meredith Shipman hit back-to-back 3s to start a big run for the Panthers (20-4).
After the Berries tied it in the fourth quarter, Shipman answered with a score on a drive and Kiersten Eley knocked down a jumper to give the Panthers the 4-point lead right back.
Jennings scored four straight again to tie it back up, and Nakeya Penny scored on a putback to give the Berries a 48-46 lead with 3:40 to play.
Shipman evened it back up on an and-one but missed the free throw, and Price hit 1 of 2 freebies to make it 49-48 Logan with 2:02 left. But Eley answered with a pair of free throws to give the Panthers the lead right back.
That’s when Rachel Jennings, who missed her first five 3-pointers of the game, stepped up and swished one in from the top of the key to give Logan a 52-50 lead with 1:35 to go.
Deja Wimbey missed on two shot attempts for Snider, and Penny scored on a drive with 50 seconds left to give Logan a 4-point lead. Following a missed 3 by Shipman, Whitney Jennings hit two more free throws with 17 seconds left, and the Berries were able to hold on from there.
Whitney Jennings led the Berries with 22 points, five steals and four rebounds. After missing her first free throw of the game, she sank her next 14, and the Berries outscored the Panthers 17-11 at the foul line for the game.
Penny finished with 15 points and six boards. She rolled her ankle early after a fast start but was able to return after sitting about four minutes of the contest.
Price had seven points and eight boards in the win. Kiley Victor recorded four points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Rachel Jennings also rolled her ankle in the contest but returned to score five points, all in the second half. Sydney Bullard chipped in two points and Krista Kyyroenen added one.
Shipman led the Panthers with 19 points, eight rebounds and five steals. She managed to play through foul trouble for most of the contest but did sit out about three minutes after picking up her fourth foul late in the third quarter. She ended up fouling out with 12 seconds remaining and left to a nice applause from the crowd for her strong efforts.
Wimby had 12 points, eight boards and six steals for Snider. Karrina Smith had eight points and eight boards, and Eley added six points and 10 boards.
Whitney Jennings talked about the big comeback effort.
“The first half obviously wasn’t a very good half. But going into halftime I knew they were going to make turnovers and I think we adjusted much better to their speed and their quickness the second half,” she said. “We took better care of the ball. We knew at halftime that we weren’t going to make the same mistakes again.”
As for her sister hitting what turned out to be the game-winning 3-pointer, Whitney said, “I went up to her and I said, ‘Rachel, you’re going to hit one, and it’s going to be a big one, so just keep shooting.’ And she did. Her 3 was huge.”
The Berries face Fort Wayne South (22-3) at 8 o’clock tonight in the regional final. South Side defeated Westfield 58-56 in overtime in the later semifinal today. Westfield finished 21-3.