By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune
---- — Logansport’s 15th North Central Conference win in a row in girls basketball was all about No. 15 — that is the Berries’ No. 15, Whitney Jennings.
The Miss Basketball candidate put on a show in front of a big Berry Bowl crowd Saturday night against arch-rival Kokomo.
Jennings had 41 points, 10 steals, seven rebounds and six assists to lift the Berries to a 68-48 win over the Wildkats for their 15th NCC win in a row.
“She gets 41 points against a conference opponent that is trying to do something to stop her,” Logan coach Jerry Hoover said. “She got 22 at the half and were up 21 at the half. She’s the difference in the game.”
The 41 points is a new career high for Jennings. She shot 13 of 24 from the field and 14 of 15 from the foul line.
She scored 37 and 30 in the Berries’ first two games of the season.
“I understand that I need to score more for us this year for us to be successful,” she said. “I’m not particularly happy that I had too many turnovers (5) I thought. As a point guard I can’t be doing that.”
The Berries (3-0, 1-0 NCC) jumped out to a 35-14 lead at halftime. But the Wildkats (1-1, 0-1) outscored them 34-33 in the second half.
“I thought we came out strong,” Jennings said. “Our defense in the second half — they were lighting it up — but we’ve got to cover shooters, so that’s one thing we really need to work on this next week and a half we have is our individual and team defense.”
The Wildkats caught fire from behind the arc in the second half, making 6 of 11 after hitting 3 of 12 in the first half in falling into the early hole.
“I’m not real happy with our defense,” Hoover said. “Our defense is not what we’ve played for years around here. They’re catching it in the post too easy.
“What the China trip did is we’ve got to get a whole lot of stuff — we’re pounding 7 pounds of stuff in a 5-pound bag. It’s just helter-skelter, skitter-scatter, what’s the matter, blah, blah, blah.
“So now we’ve got a week, and I guarantee you we’re going to start Monday morning with shooting in the morning so that gives me a good two hours to work on individual defensive fundamentals which will translate to a better zone defense which is our trademark. Our trademark is our Red defense and it wasn’t very good at all tonight. They got it about where they wanted it and they got shots about where they wanted. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Nakeya Penny added 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists for Logan. Maddie Dalton hit 2 of 4 from behind the arc for six points. Syd Bullard had five points and five boards.
“I wasn’t disappointed at all with anybody. Everybody played well,” Hoover said. “I’m proud of them. We’ve just got a lot of work ahead of us.”
Cierra Tinder led the Kats with 14 points and four steals and she was 4 of 8 from behind the arc. Jasmine Love had 10 points and seven rebounds. Gabrielle Smith added seven points and eight boards and Kaila Stiner chipped in six points.
Starting forward Alanis Jones left the game with 2:09 left in the first quarter after hitting her head on the floor and did not return.
The Berries outscored the Kats 17-3 at the foul line which included 14 from Jennings alone. They forced 21 Wildkat turnovers.
The Kats got as close as 52-38 after Stiner scored five straight points for them to open the fourth quarter. But Jennings would have none of it, as she had an assist to Penny, a three-point play and a basket following a steal to push the lead back up to 59-38 with 5:00 left to play.
She also hit a 25-foot jumper in the first half and had several patented stop and stop jump shots from all over the court during the game.
And the Berries continued their impressive run in the NCC, historically one of the top basketball conferences in the state or the nation for that matter.
“It’s been a long time since Logansport had 15 conference wins in a row in anything,” Hoover said.
The Berries return to action when they host Lewis Cass in the first game of a girls-boys doubleheader in Cass County Tournament play on Dec. 3.