by Beau Wicker
Perhaps going up against two Fort Wayne powerhouses in the same day was too much for Logansport’s girls basketball team in its bid for a regional championship.
The Berries were able to shake off a slow start in the morning game against Fort Wayne Snider on Saturday at the Class 4A Kokomo Regional, but they did not have the same fate against Fort Wayne South in the title game.
South Side jumped out to a big lead and was able to hold on for a 71-55 win to claim its second-ever regional title.
The Berries finished their season with a fine 25-2 record, which is a school record for wins in a season.
“No excuses, but two games like that in one day takes a toll on you. I think it caught up to us,” said Logan star guard Whitney Jennings, who was harassed by fullcourt pressure the entire day by both Fort Wayne squads.
She led the Berries with 20 points, three assists and three steals against South Side (23-3). Rachel Jennings scored 14 points. Nakeya Penny had eight points and eight boards. Madyson Price had six points, Sydney Bullard added four points and Kiley Victor added three points and nine boards.
Ariana Simmons, an IPFW recruit, led the Archers with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Deloyah Johnson had 12 points and Lynnia Noel scored 10.
The Berries struggled with turnovers all day against the physical fullcourt pressure defenses from the two Fort Wayne schools. They committed 19 turnovers against South Side after averaging 9 per game in the regular season.
“We have relied on Whitney to bring the ball up against everybody that we’ve played,” Logan coach Jerry Hoover said. “I didn’t do a very good job of getting her screens and getting her where then she could attack. They just had a lot of people on her. I just didn’t think that would be an issue, but it turned out to be in both games.
“We needed to get it in the open floor and get going.”
The Berries were also outrebounded 44-36 for the game, including 20-10 on the offensive glass.
Another factor was a lot of shots that normally fall for the Berries just didn’t, while for the Archers it was vice versa.
“They shot real well. They didn’t shoot nearly that well from 3 during the season, but they knocked down a bunch of 3s early in the game that hurt us,” Hoover said.
The Archers jumped out to a 37-24 lead at halftime. They scored four points in the final five seconds of the third quarter to take a 53-33 lead after three.
The Berries fought back and cut it to 60-51 after a 27-foot jumper by Whitney Jennings with 2:25 remaining. But the Archers were able to pull away down the stretch as the big deficit was too much to overcome.
“It’s tough but we have nothing to feel bad about,” Whitney Jennings said. “We had a great year. It’s sad to see it end, but you can only be proud of what you accomplished.”
Added Price: “It’s definitely tough to lose when you’ve gone so far. But we definitely gave it our all and it was a dream season and we did as much as we could and it turned out really well.”
The Berries will lose a strong senior class to graduation in Rachel Jennings, Victor, Price and Seanna Redman, who missed the second half of the season with a torn ACL. Krista Kyyroenen is a foreign exchange student who will likely return to her home country of Finland next year.
“They’re going to be missed, that’s for sure,” Whitney Jennings said.
Added Hoover: “I’ve enjoyed this year very much. I think the senior captains have done a great job for the team. Let’s face it, 25-2 is a school record. This is the first time that Logansport has been in the regional final since it went to class. And we won the North Central Conference and the sectional and we set quite a few records. I can tell you this, they are a credit to their parents and they’re a credit to their school and they’re a credit to their community.”
The Berries will return a lot of talent starting with Whitney Jennings, Penny and Bullard.
“Next year we’re going to have to have girls step up, but we’ll get to that when the time comes,” Whitney Jennings said.
Memorial Gym has a capacity of 5,200, and Logan fans filled up nearly three-quarters of the stands in the regional final and half in the semifinal. The Fort Wayne schools also had a good turnout of fans.