by Beau Wicker
Western simply has Logansport’s number in boys basketball.
Even after falling in a quick hole with a short-handed squad, the Panthers found a way to win on the road against the Berries Friday night.
Western pulled out a 54-52 win over Logansport, its sixth win in the seven tries since the series was started up.
The Berries (6-4) had three players in double figures, shot 52.4 percent from the field and outrebounded the Panthers 30-27, but they still came up short.
“The difference was they got to the line,” Logan coach Mark Victor said. “They got to the line 20 times, and we got there four times and all of those were in the fourth quarter.”
Western (7-3) shot 14 of 20 from the foul line for the game to Logan’s 1 of 4.
The Berries were outscored 13-9 in the decisive fourth quarter.
“They just outplayed us in the fourth quarter,” Victor said. “We just couldn’t get stops when we needed to get stops.”
After leading most of the game, including 43-41 after three quarters, the Berries didn’t score in the fourth quarter until a Bo Bullard free throw with 3:48 left to play. But a Jayson Higgins 3-pointer with 3:10 remaining knotted the score at 47-all.
Western hurt Logan in the fourth quarter with dribble penetration, but an Antonio Penny tip-in and then a 3-pointer brought the Berries to within 54-52 with 25 seconds left, and they still had a chance. Western’s Austin Weaver missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with :15 remaining, setting up a wild finish.
Penny got a good look on a drive as time was winding down but was long with his shot. Nate Bullard rebounded but missed a tip-in attempt, and Penny then missed his tip-in, and Western was able to hold on.
“The one Nate had, if he could have gathered himself, he shot it kind of quick. Then Antonio tried to flip it right there at the end,” Victor said.
Penny finished with 19 points, nine assists and five rebounds to lead the Berries. Higgins had 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. Bo Bullard added 15 points, and Nate Bullard had 12 rebounds.
What made the loss more frustrating for the Berries was that Western played the game short-handed due to suspensions handed out by coach Bart Miller. Ronnie Smith, a 6-7 senior, sat out the entire game, and junior guard Evan Warden sat out the first half.
Warden entered the game to start the second half and quickly made his presence felt, scoring 16 points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range. Austin Townsend finished with a double-double of 16 points and 11 boards for the Panthers. Des Balentine scored 12 points, and Weaver added eight.
The Berries' lone win against Western was three years ago during Nate Champion's and Jared Jennings' senior seasons when they won 80-61 in Russiaville.
The Berries’ two-game winning streak was ended. They travel to Harrison tonight.
“This game, it tests us, but the good thing is it wasn’t a conference game and we’ve got to get ready for Harrison tomorrow night,” Victor said