by Beau Wicker
The high-scoring Logansport Berries were back in action Friday night at Rochester.
The Berries once again lit up the scoreboard frequently and this time they did a better job of keeping the opponent from doing so.
The Berries had a scorching first half from the field, building up a big early lead en route to a 70-55 win over the Zebras.
The Berries, who entered as the fifth highest scoring team in Class 4A, improved to 12-7 with the win.
“We’ll take it. Hopefully it’s a confidence booster for us going into next week,” Logansport coach Pat Skaggs said. “Obviously when you make some shots it makes things look easier but overall I really thought our defense was a little bit smarter tonight. I thought we did a better job of containing the ball.
“We hit a bunch of 3s in the first half and that gave us a cushion, I thought that was huge in the game. Overall I thought we did some things better.”
The Berries torched the nets in the first half to the tune of 10 of 15 from 3-point range to build a 45-27 lead at the break.
They led just 13-10 after one quarter before shooting 7 of 8 from 3 in the second. Carter Skaggs, who also hit back-to-back 3s to end the first quarter for the Berries, had 16 points by halftime on five 3-pointers and Matt Jennings had 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc.
“They came out and played zone, I was glad I was able to finally get loose a little bit, was able to shoot it,” Carter Skaggs said. “We did a good job of getting to the middle there and finishing around the basket. Our defense still needs some improvement, but overall we shot the ball really well and played really well.”
The Berries cooled off to start the second half and missed all six attempts from beyond the arc as Rochester was able to cut the lead to 53-40 entering the fourth.
“We still had some breakdowns. We still didn’t play very well in the third quarter,” Pat Skaggs said. “I think part of that was we got in a little bit of a hurry on offense and didn’t really read their trap and execute against some trap very well.”
Carter Skaggs promptly hit back-to-back 3s to open the fourth to put the Berries back up by 19. They led by as much as 70-44 after two Skaggs free throws with 2:23 remaining.
The Berries finished 12 of 25 from 3-point range for the game. Carter Skaggs was 7 of 15 from 3 en route to a game-high 24 points. Jennings finished with 14 points. A Wyatt Kelley 3-pointer in the first half gave the Berries a 22-point lead with a minute left in the half.
Andrew Wamsley added 14 points for Logan, and Alex Brink was also in double figures with 11. A.J. Smith and Brad Nies chipped in a field goal apiece.
Luke Cannedy scored 23 points to lead the Zebras (4-16). Alec Holland added 11.
The Zebras made 9 of 20 3-pointers on the night but weren’t able to keep up with the Berries overall.
While the Berries are a high scoring team, they also give up a lot at 67.7 ppg.
“We practice defense a lot in practice, sometimes it just doesn’t carry over to the games. But we do work on it, we can really improve on that,” Carter Skaggs said.
Wamsley agreed his squad is capable of more after it allowed 94 points in a loss at Western and 75 in a win over Winamac earlier in the week.
“We definitely play hard but not necessarily smart. Obviously the other teams are getting hot but we could have prevented a little bit of it,” he said. “It’s just a lot of times someone will get beat off the dribble and that will cause problems everywhere. We’ll double down and they’ll get a kick out or we won’t play good help side and they’ll get to the rim. So it all starts with on the ball defense.”
It sets up an interesting matchup with Marion and Mr. Basketball candidate James Blackmon Jr., at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Class 4A Kokomo Sectional.
“If we come out and we play slow and have a good offensive and good defensive game, we can play with anybody,” Wamsley said.