January 24, 2014

Logan squads face Richmond

Cass travels to Northwestern; Winamac visits Tri-County

By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune

---- — The bad stretch of winter weather has this weekend’s games again in jeopardy.

Logansport has already moved its contests with Richmond to Saturday afternoon. The boys game is at the Berry Bowl and the girls game is at Richmond. The junior varsity games get underway at noon followed by the varsity at 1:30 p.m.

The Logan boys are coming off a 98-64 humbling at Marion last weekend. It doesn’t get any easier for the Berries (8-2, 0-2 North Central Conference) on Saturday, as they host another NCC heavyweight in Richmond (10-1, 2-0).

“While Richmond doesn’t have Marion’s offensive firepower, they are an extremely athletic team and a very, very good defensive team,” Logan coach Pat Skaggs said. “They will utilize a lot of pressure and trapping defenses and it’ll be another real challenge for us.”

Skaggs is looking for his squad to cut down on its turnovers. He said they had 18 to 20 turnovers in the Marion loss.

“There are a lot of things for us to improve on,” he said. “I think it was a good learning lesson for us to play a team of that caliber. Obviously we have to play better defense but the biggest thing is we have to play a little smarter and understand what tempo we want to try to play. I think back to the Anderson game and then the Marion game and I don’t think we had the tempo to our liking in either game. We need to dictate the tempo a little more. On the other hand, that’s a little easier said than done.

“Richmond is a team that appears on film even presses after missed shots. We have to be ready at all times. They pressure fullcourt, three-quarters, halfcourt.”

Mike Tillman leads Richmond’s scorers with 16.8 points per game. Joel Okafor averages 9.6 and Davious Webster 8.8. Okafor, a 5-11 junior point guard, has several mid-major offers.

“Joel Okafor is built like a bull and is extremely quick and his perimeter game has improved,” Skaggs said. “They’ve got a lot of size. They’ve got two 6-8 kids. They’re a very senior-laden team with seven or eight seniors.”

Carter Skaggs leads Logansport with 22.4 points per game. Andrew Wamsley, Jalen Adaway and Matt Jennings also average double figures for the Berries, all around 10-11 points.

Logan’s girls squad is set to make the long trek to Richmond on Saturday. The Berries (14-2, 3-0 NCC) are taking a 17-game league winning streak into the game.

Richmond (8-9, 1-3) is led by the backcourt combination of junior Mackenzie Taylor and freshman Destiny Perkins.

“They’ve got two guards that score 20 a game,” Logan coach Jerry Hoover said. “They’ve got a 6-foot center [freshman Lexus Perkins] that played three games then injured her knee. She’s at all the games walking around looking pretty good and they keep saying she’s going to return. Well, our luck will be she’ll return against us. If she does, I’ll guarantee you they should be a favorite because we’ve got a three-hour bus trip. And then their personnel, we don’t have anybody to match up with that center at all.”

The Berries are coming off their second loss of the season, a 63-59 defeat at Carmel last Saturday. The Carmel loss mirrored the Gary West loss in that it was the final game of a busy stretch and it was on the road.

“I know coaches talk about playing a tough schedule [being beneficial] and I agree with that,” Hoover said. “I don’t know playing two games in two days, three games in two days, four games in six days, some of the things we’ve done, I don’t know where that translates to where we’re at. We get to the regional, we get in some of those games, we’ll just have to wait and see.

“At least we’ve played some people and we haven’t ran away from anybody. If somebody called and said they wanted to play and they were good, we haven’t turned them down. I make no bones about it, I like playing in the Hall of Fame, I like playing at Marion last week, I like playing at Carmel. I like playing up at Hammond. I like those kinds of atmospheres and games. I think it’s good for the girls. They’re not going to go and tell their grandchildren, well, we didn’t play anybody. We were pretty good but we didn’t play anybody and we don’t know how good we really were. It’s just part of being a North Central Conference team and I like it.”

Whitney Jennings averages 32.9 ppg and Nakeya Penny adds 18.8 to lead the Berries.

Cass (6-2, 1-1 MIC) at N’western (4-4, 2-1 MIC)

The Kings enter having won four in a row. They’re winning streak started way back on the weekend of Dec. 20-21.

“We’ve played two games in the last five weeks,” Cass coach Jon Kitchel said. “We’re sitting here two months into the season and we’ve only played eight games.”

That could continue after this weekend. If the game does get in tonight, it should be a pretty up-tempo affair.

“Northwestern is a really high-tempo team and they get up and down the floor and run,” Kitchel said. “They press almost the entire game. The Ortman kid can really light it up from outside, and they’ve got two or three other really nice shooters. They’ll have no passes or one pass and shoot the 3. They’re a team that plays off emotion. We’ve got to make sure to defend the 3-point line.”

Cass travels to Delphi (5-9) Saturday night.

“I saw them play against Tipton and they’re a real solid team,” Kitchel said. “They graduated [Cole] Murray who was 6-7 so they don’t have a whole lot of size. Like we are, they’re a guard-oriented team. It’ll be a tough game at their place. They have a couple really good shooters.”

The Cass coach thinks he has a squad that can handle all the challenges the weather has provided.

“I think we have a real mature team, a seasoned team. They have an unbelievable work ethic,” he said. “We’re in the same boat as everybody else. Northwestern and Delphi haven’t been able to practice all the time, either. It’s not like anybody has an advantage. We’ll just have to go play and see what happens.”

Austin Keisling, Blake Hadley and Ryan Bixler are all averaging in double figures to lead the Kings. Owen Ohman is the defensive ace and Victor DeJesus is the leading rebounder. Evan Ohman, Jake Martin, Destin Irwin and Drew McRae give the Kings good depth off the bench.

Winamac (3-4, 0-0 MWC) at Tri-County (7-2, 1-0 MWC)

The Warriors are hoping to finally get their Midwest Conference slate underway.

“It’s a huge game. We’re the only MWC team that hasn’t played a league game yet,” Warriors coach Kyle Johnson said. “It’s a game that’s going to make an impact in the conference. We’re going to know where Winamac stands. Right now our record is not much to see but we’re excited to get the conference started and get over there and play and right all the areas we’re not doing as well. We’re excited and ready to go.”

Considering their late start due to football combined with all of the recent snow outs, the Warriors will certainly be a busy team going forward.

“I think we have less practices than games with our remaining schedule prior to the sectional,” Johnson said. “It puts us in a tough position. We need to execute and take away the dumb plays and make smarter plays. We need to take care of the basketball to put us in a better position to win a game.”

Pioneer (1-9, 0-2 MWC) atW. Central (4-7, 2-1 MWC)

The Panthers are seeking their first win since the North Miami win in mid December.

They’ll play another team with an edge in age and experience.

“They’ve got Street and McKay, two seniors who have played since they were sophomores. Dillman is a junior that got ample time last year. They’re juniors and seniors that have been through the battles,” Pioneer coach Austin Cowley said.

The Panthers are coming off a 49-42 loss to Frontier.

“We’re just not to the point yet where we can execute for 32 minutes,” Cowley said. “We played a good first quarter and had a 10-7 lead and went really, really cold after that. We’ve talked about having more ball reversals. Teams are going to sag in and make us hit outside shots. I’ve got confidence a few guys will get things turned around before the end of the season.”

Pioneer hosts Carroll (5-5) Saturday night.

“They’ve got Dillon and Bush, so we’ll have our hands full with them in the post,” Cowley said. “Keeping them off of the offensive boards will be a big key. We’ll have to handle their pressure and traps and limit turnovers. We’ve only proven one game where we had 12 turnovers or less and won that game. We’ve got to grow up and take care of the ball.”

N. White (5-6, 1-2 MWC) at Caston (7-6, 2-1 MWC)

The key MWC game is set for Saturday night.

“They’re a tough team,” Caston coach J.R. Howell said of the Vikings. “They trap everything, play zone, a fullcourt diamond press. They play 12 guys they sub in and out. It’ll be a tough game for us mentally and physically. They’ve got a couple kids that are 6-2, 6-3, taller than us and muscular and physical.

“We need to make sure we stay composed and handle their traps. We know they’re coming. Hopefully if we do those things that’ll translate into points and we’ll get open looks.”

The Comets lost at Rochester 53-42 earlier in the week.

“We came out really flat. That was the most flat we’ve came out since the Delphi game,” Howell said. “We didn’t handle their pressure very well and we didn’t stay composed.

“The last six minutes we won, but we lost the first 26 minutes. We made a comeback and got to within five with three minutes to go. But we had to work so hard to stay within 10, 11, when we got the momentum it wasn’t enough to overcome. They’re a team we thought we could beat but unfortunately we did not come ready to play.”