by Beau Wicker
As far as high school basketball goes in the state of Indiana, it doesn’t get any bigger in regular-season play than the Hall of Fame Classic.
Logansport’s girls basketball team is part of an outstanding field in this year’s event, which is known as the most prestigious in-season tournament in the state. The field enters the Classic with a combined record of 45-0.
The event will be held on Friday at the New Castle Fieldhouse, the biggest high school gymnasium in the world. The Classic features the top teams, talent and coaching in the state.
The winner of the Classic will likely be considered the top team in the state at just about the halfway point of the season.
“I told them you win [last Friday against Carmel], now you have a chance to play for No. 1 in the state, because every team that’s down at the Hall of Fame is undefeated,” Logan coach Jerry Hoover said. “There’s going to be one team coming out of there win no losses. Lord knows who’s it going to be, but hey, we’re going to get to play for it.”
Class 4A No. 4 Logansport (11-0) will face Class 2A No. 1 Evansville Mater Dei (11-0) at approximately 12:45 p.m. on Thursday, following the matchup of Class 4A’s two top-ranked teams, No. 1 Hamilton Southeastern (11-0) vs. No. 2 Columbus North (12-0) at 11 a.m.
The consolation game is set for 6 p.m., with the championship game following at approximately 7:45 p.m.
Mater Dei is the defending state champion in Class 2A. The Wildcats have won 39 of their last 40 contests and are ranked one spot ahead of Logansport in the IBCA poll, which does not take into account class size. The Wildcats are ranked fifth and the Berries are ranked sixth in that poll, where Columbus North is the top-ranked team and Hamilton Southeastern is second.
The Logansport vs. Mater Dei matchup features two leading 2014 Miss Basketball candidates, Whitney Jennings from Logan and Maura Muensterman from Mater Dei.
Jennings has already verbally committed to play at Iowa. The 5-foot-5 junior is averaging 25.1 points, 9.0 assists, 4.4 steals and 4.2 rebounds per game. She’s shooting 52.4 percent from the field including 23 of 49 from 3-point range (46.9 percent). She’s 35 of 45 from the foul line (77.8 percent). Her assists-to-turnover ratio is greater than 5-to-1.
Muensterman hit the game-winning shot in overtime in the Class 2A state championship game a year ago in a 56-52 win over Fort Wayne Bishop Luers. The 6-foot guard/forward is still undecided on her college choice. She has received offers from Evansville, Butler and Drake and interest from several other Division-I schools, including Duke, Indiana and Indiana State according to the Evansville Courier & Press. She is averaging 24.2 ppg, 9.8 apg, 6.2 rpg and 3.8 spg. She’s shooting 59.8 percent from the field including 32 of 55 from 3-point range (58.2 percent). She’s 20 of 24 from the foul line (83.3 percent). Her assists-to-turnover ratio is also greater than 5-to-1.
The Berries are leading the state in average scoring margin (plus-34.4 ppg), and the Wildcats are eighth (plus-30.1).
The Berries are coming off back-to-back impressive wins over Anderson and Carmel. Anderson is known as one of the top fullcourt pressure defensive teams in the state which leads to one of the highest scoring teams, and Carmel is usually a power in all sports and gave the Berries a tough game. But in both contests, the Berries were able to pull away to a double-digit victory.
The Berries, who went 20-4 and won the North Central Conference last season, have went 85-16 (.842) since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, which is among the state’s best records during that time. Hoover is in his 11th year with the girls program and has 30 years as a high school boys and girls head coach. He has 369 career wins, 133 at Logansport.
Rachel Jennings is averaging 16.7 ppg for the Berries. The 5-8 senior guard is shooting 47.4 percent from 3-point land (36 of 76). Nakeya Penny, a 5-11 sophomore, is averaging 15.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg. She is shooting 58.3 percent from the field. Kiley Victor, a 5-11 senior, adds 5.2 ppg and 7.8 rpg.
Other key players for the Berries include 6-1 junior Krista Kyyroenen, 5-9 senior Madyson Price and 5-9 sophomore Sydney Bullard. Seanna Redman, a 5-9 senior, is out with a torn ACL injury but hopes to return before the end of the season as one of the team’s top defensive players.
Tori Schickel, a 6-1 sophomore, averages 18.3 ppg and 8.8 rpg for Mater Dei. Beth Fischer, a 6-foot senior, adds 9.6 ppg and 6.5 rpg.
Hamilton Southeastern has won 35 regular-season games in a row. The Royals feature 6-4 forward Taya Reimer (21.0 ppg, 9.4 rpg), a Notre Dame recruit and favorite to win the Miss Basketball award this season. She’s ranked as the No. 4 player in the nation on ESPN.com. Jessica Pagonis, a 6-2 senior, adds 10.3 ppg and 5.6 rpg. She will play at St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia.
Columbus North lost just one senior from last season’s Class 4A runner-up squad. The Bulldogs have won 26 consecutive regular-season games and 31 of their last 32 overall. Sophomore point guard Ali Patberg averages 18.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 3.3 apg to lead the Bulldogs. Taylor Goodall averages 13.5 ppg, and Kelsey Cunningham adds 8.3 ppg.
All games will be televised in Central Indiana on WHMB TV-40 Sports. Morning games will air tape-delayed at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon, with live coverage of the consolation and championship games each night.
WSAL in Logansport will air the Mater Dei game live in the afternoon on 1230-AM, and both WSAL and Hoosier Country 103.7-FM will air Logan’s night game live, whether it’s the consolation or final.