by Beau Wicker
NEW CASTLE —
Logansport’s girls basketball team has been the dominating force in North Central Conference play over the last two years.
The Berries were back at it again Friday night at New Castle, as they jumped out to a huge lead before the Trojans went on a startling late run.
But it was too little, too late for New Castle, as the Berries held on for a 68-56 win to record their second straight undefeated season in NCC play. All 14 of those wins have come by double digits, with the 12-point margin against New Castle being the closest during the stretch.
The Berries won their fourth-ever NCC title and cut down the nets at the New Castle Fieldhouse.
“It’s a really good accomplishment because it is making history,” said senior forward Kiley Victor. “Logansport’s never won it twice in a row. We’re just looking forward for sectionals.
“This game was tough, but we pulled it through. We came out strong in the first half. Then in the second half we didn’t come out as strong, and they took advantage of it.”
It certainly didn’t look like the Class 4A No. 4 Berries (20-1, 7-0) were going to have to sweat this one out at all, as they jumped out to a 26-4 lead after one quarter.
“That was the best first quarter we’ve ever played,” proclaimed Logan coach Jerry Hoover.
The Berries’ passing was crisp, they were turning defense into offense and they were getting putback baskets when they did happen to miss.
A killer crossover jump shot from the elbow by Whitney Jennings gave the Berries a 31-4 lead just nine minutes in.
The Berries led 37-6 midway through the second quarter, and it was a struggle for New Castle (6-13, 1-6) just to get a shot off.
The Berries coasted into the break with a 49-22 lead and it was 60-28 with two minutes left in the third quarter.
Then in a stunning turn of events, the Trojans turned things around and went on a 20-0 run over the next seven minutes. The Trojans, who finished last in the league standings, showed how difficult it can be to win in the conference and that they are indeed an up-and-coming squad to watch for next year.
But the future is now for the Berries. Madyson Price stemmed the tide with back-to-back baskets to give Logan a 64-50 lead with 2:00 remaining.
New Castle just didn’t miss down the stretch. The Trojans scored on about 10 straight possessions, which included making seven 3-pointers in a row. Payton Anderson was on fire and hit five 3s in a row in the final nine minutes of the contest. The last of which pulled the Trojans to within 64-56 with 12.2 seconds left.
But Jennings hit two free throws and then got a steal and assist to Nakeya Penny to close out the game.
Jennings finished with 24 points, nine assists, seven steals and six rebounds to lead the Berries. Penny scored 16 points, and Price was also in double figures with 11. Victor had seven points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Rachel Jennings returned from an illness that sidelined her earlier in the week and had five points. Krista Kyyroenen also had five points.
Anderson led all scorers with 25 points for New Castle. Holli Poe scored 10, and Alaynie Woollard had eight points and five boards.
“Let’s give them credit,” Hoover said. “We had [Anderson] as their second best 3-shooter. And then Poe, she was 2 for 16 for the year, and she comes in and knocks down 3 for 5. And then Anderson, who’s a sophomore, gets 8 for 12. That’s pretty good.
“Hey listen, we played very well. We didn’t give them much inside. We gave them what we wanted to give them. I thought we did very well offensively.”
Logan hosts Class 2A No. 10 Winamac on Thursday night for senior night.