By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune
---- — Logansport fans may have been thinking about the Gary West game in the closing seconds against Benton Central Tuesday night in the Berry Bowl.
The Berries, who lost to Gary West on a 3-point buzzer beater, were in a similar situation against the Bison, who needed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to force overtime.
This time the Berries did not converge on the ball-handler. Whitney Jennings didn’t let Tessa Brouillette get off a good shot. Brouillette found Baylee Goodman near the top of the key, but Nakeya Penny was right there, and Penny blocked the last-second desperation attempt as the Berries were able to hold on for a 43-40 victory.
The Class 4A No. 8 Berries improved to 13-1, and the Class 3A No. 4 Bison dropped to 12-2.
“It wasn’t a pretty game. But hey, we got the win, that’s all that matters,” said Jennings, who was held 18 points under her average but still made winning plays down the stretch.
The Berries had to again sweat this one out. Evonnie Payne hit 1 of 2 free throws for the Bison with 1:27 remaining to tie the game at 40-all.
Jennings made a great wrap-around pass to Penny for a score with 48 seconds left to give Logan a 42-40 lead. Jennings came up with a steal and hit 1 of 2 free throws in the one-and-bonus to make it a three-point game.
Jennings then forced a travel with 9.6 seconds left. Penny missed the front end of a one-and-one but game up with the block at the end to seal the win.
Logansport coach Jerry Hoover was happy his team was able to survive against this up-and-coming Bison squad.
“We got in a slow-down after a week of not having any practice. It’s a situation where we were very fortunate to get out of it with a win,” he said. “We were 0-for-15 from 3 and 50 percent from the foul line (9 of 18). That’s not real good.”
Hoover thought last week’s polar freeze contributed to Tuesday’s ice-cold shooting night as the Berries missed five days of practice time last week.
“I’m telling you, girls cannot take days off from practice and shooting. I don’t care if it’s Whitney Jennings or who it is, you’ve got to practice and shoot just about every night. Almost everything is hitched to shooting,” he said. “You can give boys four or five days off and they’ll recover in two or three days and play pretty good. With girls that doesn’t happen. It’s one of the differences between the boys and girls game.”
The Berries did survive despite all the misfiring from both the 3-point and free-throw lines. They were 17 of 35 from 2 and forced 19 turnovers to hold on.
While the Berries’ defense might have won the game for them, the Benton Central defense certainly deserves credit for shutting down the high-octane Logan attack. The 43-40 final score more closely resembles a likely halftime score for the runnin’ Berries.
Jennings had an off shooting night against Benton Central’s box-and-one defense. She finished with 17 points, nine assists, five rebounds and five steals. She was 6 of 17 from the field and 5 of 9 from the foul line.
“No question Whitney Jennings won the game with long passes to Nakeya and Nakeya had a bunch of lay-ins,” Hoover said. “Whit stole the ball a bunch of times. No question that was the difference in the ballgame.”
Madison Dalton had back-to-back putback baskets to close the third quarter and open the fourth that hurt the Bison. Penny added a basket to give Logan its biggest lead of the game, 39-31, with 7:22 remaining.
The Bison stormed back with back-to-back baskets by Kaylan Coffman. A Katie Shields basket was followed by a big 3-pointer by Madison Tolen that brought the Bison to within 40-39 with 1:45 left.
The Berries came out in a box-and-one on Coffman to start the game. The Bison were very patient offensively and built a 9-3 lead after one quarter.
The Berries then tried to speed up the game and got to within 22-20 at the half before taking a 35-31 lead after three.
The Berries were in scramble mode for much of the night.
“They had a very good game plan,” Hoover said. “They took advantage of our weakness, which is we’re not big enough. They pounded it inside. And they kept us out of what we want to do. Of course we want a transition game. With our different defenses and pressures we did get them in transition a little bit, enough to win the dang thing.”
Jennings added: “It took us the first half to adjust to it. We were kind of unsure what to do. We started pressuring their guards a little more. They’ve got some freshman guards in there. That’s how we got back into the lead and took control of the game. I’m proud of my teammates for hanging on and getting the stops when we needed them.
“It was just a different ballgame tonight. But we’ve got to be ready for all the junk defenses to come. Teams are going to try to do that to us so we’ve just got to be prepared for it.”
Penny had a game-high 18 points for Logan. She added two steals and two blocks. Dalton had four points, four rebounds and two steals. Syd Bullard had three points and four boards. Kennedy Curl chipped in five rebounds and three steals to go with a free throw.
Coffman had 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Bison. Shields had 13 points, 10 boards and four assists. Payne added nine points and seven boards before fouling out with 20.1 seconds left. Point guard Brouillette picked up four fouls in the first half but managed to play most of the second avoiding her fifth and had two assists to go with just two turnovers for BC.