By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune
---- — One of the great basketball careers in Logansport history is winding down.
But Whitney Jennings knows there is still a lot of work to do and there is still a lot for her Lady Berries to accomplish heading down the final stretch of her senior season.
The No. 14-ranked Berries (14-2) are taking a 17-game North Central Conference winning streak into Friday’s game at Richmond.
Jennings and the Berries will then have senior night on Tuesday against Twin Lakes at the Berry Bowl.
“Senior night coming up, it’s bittersweet,” she said. “I really haven’t thought much about it. The season has kind of gone by really fast, I think, so it’s hard to believe it’s here already. Just reflecting on my four years, it’s been fun and it’s going to be sad to take off this jersey for the last time. But I wouldn’t have been coached by any other coaches or have played with any other girls. It’s been fun.”
And Jennings has been fun to watch for the many Berry fans that have seen her play at the Berry Bowl or made the trek to other of the state’s great gyms to watch her play. Not only is she in the midst of one of the top careers in Logansport history, she’s having one of the greatest careers in state history.
She currently has 2,304 career points which is 10th in state history in girls basketball, and 606 career assists which is fifth, according to HickoryHusker.com’s record book.
“Best in Logansport history, boys or girls,” LHS coach Jerry Hoover said of Jennings’ career.
Hoover added of Jennings’ senior night on Tuesday: “It’ll be a night for Mr. and Mrs. Jennings to be proud and the whole community to be proud and the school to be proud and me to be proud, you to be proud, everybody to be proud.”
The Miss Basketball candidate is averaging 32.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 5.5 steals per game. She is shooting 49 percent from the field, 38 percent from 3-point range and 76 percent from the foul line.
The 5-foot-5 point guard has faced a wide array of defensive game plans designed to slow and wear her down, while at the same time she also bears a heavy burden of helping her undersized team rebound the basketball. Despite this, her outstanding fitness level allows her to never leave the court in close games.
Not only does Jennings put up impressive numbers on the court, she does so in the classroom as well. She has a 4.2 GPA and is ranked seventh in her senior class.
Jennings was assigned the No. 15 jersey before her freshman season.
“My freshman year is just kind of what I got handed, so I stuck with it. I definitely think I’m going to continue at Iowa,” she said.
Her brother Matthew is a freshman player on the boys team wearing No. 15 in tribute to his sister.
“I didn’t really know this winter that Matthew was going to wear it, so he got that number, too,” Jennings said. “So that made me really happy to see him out there wearing that number.”
No. 15 is synonymous for an exciting brand of basketball for the Berries, and Jennings will take her elite skills and athleticism to Iowa next year.
“I’m really excited for the next four years. I know it’s a great fit for me. I definitely know I made the right decision, so I’m anxious to get out there this summer and start,” she said. “But we’ve got some unfinished business to take care of here.”
The Berries have five games left on their regular-season schedule, four on the road, including games at Richmond, Huntington North, Winamac and Muncie Central. The Class 4A McCutcheon Sectional will begin play on Feb. 11.
The following is a question-and-answer session with Jennings.
Q. Of the sports you play, which is your favorite? Why?
A. I love the game of basketball. Basketball doesn’t define me by any means, but it is a big part of who I am. I’m very grateful for all the opportunities the game has given me.
Q. How did you first get started in sports? At what age?
A. When I was about 4 I began playing in Mighty Mite basketball at the YMCA and Parks Department baseball. However, my parents have always said that I began playing around the house even earlier than that because I had older siblings.
Q. Do you have any family members who played sports?
A. I have dozens of aunts, uncles and cousins who played or are still playing sports. Both of my grandpas played as well and my great grandmother played basketball. My dad, Doug, was a four-sport athlete at Argos High School. He went on to play at Indiana Central, which is now the University of Indianapolis. My mom, Carol, was a three-sport athlete at Bremen High School. All four of my siblings played or are currently playing sports at LHS.
Q. Have you ever played a sport that you were not successful at?
A. I’ve been blessed with a lot of God-given athletic ability so I caught on to most sports quite easily. However, my parents did make me join the swim team when I was little. After about a year it was obvious that I’d better stick to land sports.
Q. How do you feel you’ve improved as an athlete since you first started playing?
A. When I was younger I often let negative comments bother me. I have learned that you must surround yourself with positive people and ignore anything negative. I have been fortunate that my soccer, basketball and tennis coaches in high school have been positive influences on my life and helped me improve and grow not only as an athlete but a person, too.
Q. Who do you consider your biggest role model? Why?
A. My mom is truly the most amazing person I know. I’m privileged to be her daughter. She is always putting others before herself, and I hope to one day be the mom she has been to me and my brothers and sisters. Even though she may not be able to give me advice on basketball (although she tries at times), I go to her for everything. She is my role model.
Q. What experiences have you had in sports have made you the athlete you are today?
A. Having my dad on the coach staff is something I’ll always be thankful for. He can be hard on me at times, but I know that it’s only to help me. His guidance over the years on the court has helped shape me into the player I am today.
Q. What is something that not everyone knows about you?
A. My siblings are my four best friends. We don’t all get to be together very often, but when we do, it makes it that more special.
Q. What is your favorite memory of playing sports at your school?
A. I have so many memories of playing sports at LHS. Winning back-to-back North Central Conference titles in basketball and then finally a sectional title last year is something I’ll always remember. Also, my sophomore year I beat Marion’s No. 1 singles player in a three-and-a-half hour match that helped us win Logan’s first-ever NCC title in girls tennis. I remember bursting into tears right after because I was so mentally and physically tired and just so happy to have won.
Q. What’s your favorite music, movie, team, etc.?
A. Artist: Taylor Swift. Book: anything by Karen Kingsbury. Sports teams: Logansport Berries and Iowa Hawkeyes.
Q. Who is the best athlete in your respective sport you’ve ever gone up against?
A. Maura Muensterman from Evansville Mater Dei is probably the best player my high school team has gone up against. I have so much respect for her as both a player and a person.
Q. What are your goals for your future? Do you plan on attending college?
A. I will be attending the University of Iowa on a basketball scholarship. I am undecided on my future major though.
Each week during the school year the Pharos-Tribune recognizes an athlete from one of five area high schools. The recipients are selected by each school’s athletic department.