by Beau Wicker
Logansport’s girls basketball has had a dominating start to the season against some schools with a pretty good history in basketball.
And then there was Saturday night.
The Berries opened the game with a devastating 43-3 run against Muncie Central that put it well out of reach early, and they were able to put it on cruise control the rest of the way in a 77-39 victory in the Berry Bowl.
The Class 4A No. 8 Berries improved to 8-0 overall and 2-0 in the North Central Conference. The defending NCC champions have won nine NCC games in a row.
Logan entered the contest with a higher average margin of victory (39.6 points per game) than points allowed per game (32.7 ppg). Somehow, even after a 43-3 run to start the game, those numbers will contract closer together. And rest assured, with a challenging schedule ahead, those numbers will certainly not hold the rest of the way.
But the Berries certainly appear to be a state title contender in Class 4A. They jumped out to a 23-0 lead after one quarter of play against the Bearcats (3-5, 0-3 NCC), who had no answer for Logan’s fullcourt press to start the game. Muncie shot 0 of 6 from the field and had 13 turnovers in the first quarter.
Logan coach Jerry Hoover called off the press after one quarter of play.
“I don’t know what we could have done with the score if we would have stayed in the press, but there’s a certain amount of ethics that’s involved in a game,” he said. “After all, we’re talking about high school kids and high school coaches. It’s not the pros.”
Whitney Jennings once again finished just short of a triple-double. Her final stat line was 27 points, 11 assists, seven steals and four rebounds in 28 minutes. She shot 12 of 18 from the field.
Rachel Jennings added 19 points and four steals, and she shot 5 of 7 from 3-point range. Nakeya Penny scored 17 on 8-of-14 shooting in just 22 minutes. Kiley Victor added five points and four assists.
After falling behind 43-3 in the game’s first 14 minutes, the Bearcats actually outscored Logan 36-34 the rest of the way. The lead did get as big as 48, though, when Logan led 75-27 midway through the fourth quarter.
“We played well,” Hoover said. “Of course to a coach, two things stand out: free throws we’re under 50 percent [9 of 19], and we got outrebounded by 13 [43-30]. But that’s the only two things that really stand out on the negative side of the house. On the positive side of the house, I thought everybody played hard. Even though we’ve got a 35-point lead, they’re still playing hard and they’re still playing pretty focused and they’re trying to do what we want them to do.”
The Bearcats have a young but talented group. They had two players finish with double-doubles, as freshman Jayla Scaife had 15 points and 10 rebounds to go with five blocks, and junior Jessica Rowe added 13 points and 10 boards.
“That freshman they’ve got is a load, and Rowe is a good player,” Hoover said. “They’re better than they were last year. This week they’ve had to play three games in five days. They played Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, so they’re going to have tired legs and it’s hard to focus on that third game.”
Logan’s average margin of victory is tops in the state by five points over Evansville Mater Dei, an upcoming opponent at the Hall of Fame Classic in New Castle on Dec. 27.
Next up for the Berries is possible sectional opponent Harrison at home on Tuesday night. Hoover said the Raiders have good size and length and play a good 1-3-1 zone defense that could give his squad some problems.
But with a scoring offense that is sixth in the state (72.3 ppg) and a scoring defense that is 23rd, the Berries surely pose opponents problems of their own.