December 7, 2013

Berries crush Comets, claim 6th straight county title

by Beau Wicker

— Pat Skaggs has "finally" won a Cass County Tournament title.

And his youthful Logansport boys basketball team was very impressive in doing so.

Logan thumped Caston 91-49 Friday night to win its sixth straight Logansport Savings Bank county title.

“Probably the line of the night, Sam, my seventh grade son, says, ‘Dad, it’s about time. It only took you five years to win one,’” said Skaggs, who lost four straight times to Logansport in county tournament play while at Pioneer.

The Berries (4-0) put on quite a show in the Berry Bowl against the Comets (2-1), an old rival from back in the single-class basketball days. Of course the Berries have the advantage of having more than four times the enrollment of county rivals Caston and Pioneer and more than twice the enrollment of Lewis Cass. The Berries have 56 sectional titles to their credit, which is ninth most in the state, though they haven’t won one since class sports were enacted in 1998.

Carter Skaggs scored a game-high 24 points and earned tournament MVP honors in the process. The 6-5 junior hit four of the Berries’ eight 3-pointers in the game and also threw down a pair of dunks, which was a theme of the night for the Logansport crew.

In fact Jalen Adaway threw down four himself. The 6-4 freshman now has nine dunks through the first four games of his career.

The jams have come in different varieties, whether being an alley oop, a two-handed putback or a one-handed tomahawk. Adaway even threw down a two-handed slam off an off-the-glass alley oop from Travis Palmer when the game was well in hand Friday.

“That’s what Jalen always does,” said Carter Skaggs with a chuckle. “He had some nice ones.”

Adaway wasn’t the only freshman that impressed, as Matt Jennings poured in 16 points in the win. Adaway finished with 14.

Wyatt Kelley, a move-in from Caston, added nine points including a pair of 3-pointers. Andrew Wamsley and A.J. Smith had eight points apiece. Alex Brink added seven.

Wamsley and Adaway joined Carter Skaggs on the all-tournament team.

“Wamsley had a great outlet pass to Carter for his dunk,” Pat Skaggs said. “ I told Wamsley he looked like Wes Unsfeld on the rebound and outlet at halftime and he didn’t have any idea who I was talking about.”

The Comets started out well enough. They led 7-5 midway through the first quarter and trailed just 14-10 after one.

But the Berries opened the second quarter with a 15-2 run over the first four minutes and never looked back. They led 43-21 at halftime and 62-35 after three.

“The first quarter we competed well,” Caston coach J.R. Howell said. “Throughout the whole game I told the guys I’m proud of the way we worked hard, we kept our composure late. We could have broken down and I’m proud of that effort. I’m just disappointed we didn’t execute the game plan the way we wanted to. We got too much up and down early. It’s frustrating, but we learn from it, we grow from it and we move on.”

The Caston coach thought his team needed to do a better job of stemming the tide.

“A lot of that has to do with the lack of us executing our game plan. At halftime we told them to give their guards and players a step or two more than we usually give and we didn’t do that. That’s just a lack of focus and we’ll be working on that. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. When a team has all the momentum in the world like they had the last three quarters it’s tough to slow it down,” he said.

Quentin Douglass led the Comets with 17 points, and Brayton Jellison had 16 which included three 3-pointers. Both were named to the all-tournament team.

“Coach Howell is doing a nice job with their guys and they’re learning his system as my guys are mine,” Pat Skaggs said. “The Douglass kid is a heck of a player and Caston’s going to win several games this year.”

It was just the teams’ second meeting since Caston defeated Logan in the 2004 county tournament. Logan defeated Caston two years ago.

The Berries eked by Lewis Cass earlier in the week on the strength of a fourth-quarter comeback. Carter Skaggs had just seven points in that contest until exploding for 15 in the fourth.

“They were following me everywhere chest to chest,” he said. “Finally at the end — I was 13 for 14 from the free throw line — so I just tried to get to the free throw line. When they’re going to face-guard you that’s what you’ve got to do.”

The Berries did what they had to do as well and are off to a 4-0 start for the second straight year. They host Class 3A No. 8 Frankfort next Friday.

Caston travels to Carroll next Friday.