by Beau Wicker
It was much like the McCutcheon game in that it was a big win on the road that Bo Bullard sealed late at the foul line.
The difference was it was against a current North Central Conference team and not a future one. Another difference was the Logansport Berries were much sharper offensively throughout.
Logan recorded a solid 68-67 win at Huntington North on Friday night to secure an upper-division finish in NCC play.
The Berries improved to 11-8 overall and 3-4 in the NCC, which was good enough for a fourth-place finish all alone.
Huntington North (10-11, 2-5) finished in a four-way tie for fifth with New Castle, Marion and Muncie Central. Kokomo secured a perfect season in league play with a 49-40 win over Richmond.
“It’s a tough conference. To even get fourth place is tough in our conference,” senior guard Antonio Penny said. “We’ll take it. We’d love to have first place, but we’ll take it.”
Penny had a dynamic performance for the Berries, as he recorded 32 points, nine assists, five rebounds and three steals. He was 13 of 25 from the field.
“I thought Antonio played one of his best games in the last couple years,” Logan coach Mark Victor said. “He was just playing at a whole other level tonight.”
Jayson Higgins scored 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point land. Bullard had 11 points which included hitting two free throws with 7.2 seconds remaining to give the Berries a 68-64 lead to seal the win.
Noah Reed, who scored 28 of his 30 points in the second half for the Vikings, banked in a 3 with 3.0 seconds remaining, but the Vikings were out of timeouts and the Berries didn’t have to inbound the ball as time expired.
All in all, it was one of the Berries’ best performances of the season.
“It’s huge because we can feel it in practice and we’re coming together at the right time and we’re definitely going to be a good team coming into the sectional,” Bullard said. “Hopefully we’re going to pull out a win.”
The Berries might have put together their best half of the season in the first half in jumping out to a 29-20 lead at halftime on the road. They opened the game with a 13-4 run.
“If everybody’s firing on all cylinders like that, we’re a pretty good team. We’re pretty tough to beat,” Penny said.
Reed scored 15 points in the third quarter to help the Vikings cut the lead to 47-45 after three.
The Berries took a 63-55 lead on a putback basket by Penny with 49 seconds left following a steal by Todd Yeoman. Penny was fouled on the play but missed the free throw, and the Berries missed 3 of their next 6 free throws to make it interesting before Bullard knocked down the two at the end.
Both teams shot the ball well. Logansport went to work on the boards, outrebounding Huntington 30-19 for the game despite being without Jacob Snow, who pulled down a game-high 11 boards at Winamac earlier in the week. Snow was out with an illness. Nate Bullard had a game-high eight boards for Logan, and Andrew Wamsley added six.
“It’s a great team win for us. I thought everybody contributed,” Victor said.
The fast start was a key.
“We came into this game mentally prepared,” Higgins said. “We had a great pep talk from coach [Jay] Jones on the bus ride for about 20 minutes about what we think about before the game. And it really prepared us to come into this game because we’ve been starting off slow. The last game [at Winamac on Tuesday] we came prepared with the effort, but we weren’t physical. Tonight we were physical and we had the effort, we passed the ball around, everyone was into the game and nobody had a default.”
Higgins again had the hot hand from the field. He made 9 of 12 3-pointers in two wins this week.
“I’ve been shooting a lot at practice. After practice I go to the Y and shoot and shoot and shoot,” he said. “I just have to keep my shot going because that’s what I do. When Antonio gets the ball he’s going to drive to the rim. When he needs a kick-out I need to be able to hit those shots. I’ve been working as hard as possible and giving it everything I’ve got.”
Higgins added he’s getting looks to play college ball from Division III and NAIA schools — Judson University and Lake Forest College in Illinois, Otterbein University in Ohio and IUK.
The Berries host Rochester next Friday night for senior night.