by Chris Breach
For the Pharos-Tribune
It was certainly a character-building win for Logansport at the 14th annual Region Roundball Rumble at the Hammond Civic Center on Tuesday.
The Class 4A No. 5 Berries rallied from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to post a well-deserved 57-53 win over East Chicago Central.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we came out on top,” said senior guard Rachel Jennings, who hit two big 3s in a late 15-0 run. “We just started pushing it, and we made shots we needed it at the end, and I think that’s what counts”
Game MVP Whitney Jennings led the way with 30 points, six rebounds and five steals.
“We’ve never been in that position this year, and I’m proud of my teammates for keeping their heads up and battling back,” she said. “There’s nothing we can do but learn from this game and go on.”
Trailing 47-35 with 7:10 left in the game, the Berries (13-1) mounted the huge rally. An old fashioned three-point play and two free throws by Whitney Jennings got Logan within 47-40.
Madyson Price and Nakeya Penny hit free throws around Rachel Jennings’ first big trey to pull Logan to 47-45 with 4:40 left in the game.
Rachel Jennings had missed 10 shots from beyond the arc before finally heating up.
“The coaches said, ‘You have to shoot, you’re our best chance,” she said. “I kept shooting it, and thankfully those fell.”
A basket by Penny and another 3 by Rachel Jennings gave the Berries the lead for good at 50-47 with 3:31 remaining.
“We made some stops,” Rachel Jennings said. “When you play good defense it goes over into your offense. We got some shots to fall.”
East Chicago coach Eric Kundich said Whitney Jennings was able to take over the game.
“She’s the real deal,” he said.
“That was definitely the turning point: when we were getting stops and I kept pushing in transition,” Whitney Jennings said.
Whitney Jennings hit 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch and Penny made a driving layup to put the game away.
“When we needed a bucket from Nakeya, she got it,” Whitney Jennings said.
Rachel Jennings finished with 11 points and Penny tossed in 12 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Logansport fell behind early as East Chicago (6-8) used its size and quickness to lead throughout much of the first half.
Logan led briefly at 9-8 late in the first quarter, but East Chicago closed the period with a 6-2 run to take a 14-11 lead at the first stop. Two rebound buckets by East Chicago’s Tiajaney Hawkins, who finished with a team-high 18 points, provided the push.
After a jumper by Dariyelle Ricks put the Cardinals up 21-13 with just under six minutes to play in the half, the Berries fought their way back.
A drive by Price, a 3-pointer by Rachel Jennings and a bucket underneath by Penny got the Berries within 22-18. Whitney Jennings then began to exert her will and scored the team’s final nine points of the period to get the game tied at 30-30.
Logan was outrebounded 25-19 in the first half.
“I said one word, ‘boxout,’” Logan coach Jerry Hoover said. “They only had two offensive rebounds in the second half, so I think they did what we wanted them to do.”
Hoover said overall the team didn’t play well but felt it was a great exposure for the squad.
“This is a great place to play basketball,” he said. “It’s good for our girls to get around and see different places you can play.
“The atmosphere here and to think this place was put together in 1938. Gee, it’s something else.”