by Beau Wicker
Huntington North put together a perfect upset bid in the first half against Logansport’s girls basketball team.
The problem for the Vikings was they still had 16 minutes left to play to pull it off.
The Class 4A No. 5 Berries made adjustments and played with a heightened sense of urgency after halftime, and they were able to come away with a 56-39 win Saturday afternoon at the Berry Bowl.
The Berries (14-1, 4-0 North Central Conference) trailed 25-16 at the half but dominated the second half, outscoring the Vikings 40-14 over the final two quarters.
“They had us playing the way they want to play, not the way we want to play. The tempo of the game was their tempo in the first half and our tempo in the second half,” Logan coach Jerry Hoover said. “We changed the defense. We had Kiley Victor playing a [box-and-one] combination on their best player, [Allyson] Trout. Then that really helped us.”
The Berries also picked up their intensity with their fullcourt pressure and got their transition game going. Whitney Jennings scored 21 of her game-high 25 points in the second half. She also had seven of her 10 assists and four of her five steals after halftime. She added five rebounds in the contest.
“Yeah, we didn’t have a very good first half, that’s for sure,” she said. “But we battled back the second half. We played a lot better.
“In the second half I thought we were pressuring the ball better. We got some steals that led to baskets.”
Nakeya Penny finished with 14 points and six rebounds for Logan. Rachel Jennings scored 10 points, Kiley Victor had four points and six rebounds and Madyson Price chipped in three points, four rebounds and three boards.
Trout scored 17 points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range for the Vikings (3-10, 1-2), but she was held to just four points in the second half.
The Vikings play a difficult schedule but entered on a three-game winning streak. At halftime the Berry faithful in attendance were certainly worried about the Vikings pulling off the upset, as the Vikings were patient on offense and were getting good shots while also playing strong defense. The Berries didn’t truly put the Vikings out of reach until the closing minutes.
It was truly a tale of two halves, as the Vikings shot 10 of 27 in the first half (37 percent) compared to 2 of 19 in the second half (10.5 percent), while also committing nine more turnovers (13 total) in the second half. The Berries shot just 6 of 20 in the first half (30 percent) but upped that to 13 of 23 in the second half (56.5 percent) while committing nine less turnovers after halftime (13 total).
It was the Berries’ fifth win over the last six games in which they trailed for a time in the second half. They weren’t able to overcome a slow start against Evansville Mater Dei at the Hall of Fame Classic, but have managed to overcome second-half deficits against Anderson, Carmel, Hamilton Southeastern, East Chicago Central and now Huntington North.
“Right now we’re going through some games where we’re not coming out and playing strong in the first half, and that needs to change before the end of the year,” Whitney Jennings said.
Hoover said there’s no secret to why the Berries have been challenged in recent games as the season has gone along, even games they were big favorites in such as the East Chicago and Huntington contests.
“Everybody’s going to come here and they’re going to play us the best they can play. You’re going to see their absolute best game,” he said. “[Assistant coach] Doug [Jennings] and I went up there and watched East Chicago play in South Bend, and they played 20 points better against us than they did in South Bend.
“[John] Wooden calls that the ‘Thrill of Competition.’ Hey, that’s good, that’s fun. Hey, 10 years ago we never saw anybody’s A game. All we saw was they came in here and tromped us and happily went out to their bus and went back home. So now everybody that comes here, it’s their A game. That’s fine. That’s what you want.”
The Berries travel to Class 3A No. 1 Benton Central (13-1) on Tuesday night. The Bison’s lone loss this season was to Class 4A No. 11 Pike by 3 points in the second game of the day at their holiday tournament. They bounced back with a 16-point win over a Gary West squad that entered 11-1 on Friday. The Bison won by 16 at Logansport last season.
The Bison are led by 5-11 senior guard Caitlyn Tolen and 6-foot senior forward Cassidy Deno.
“They’ve got two all-state players,” Hoover said. “Those two players can really shoot. They are really great shooters. They have an effective press. They have a freshman center that’s 6-2 and another freshman center that’s 6-3. They’re very good... They are easily as good as Mater Dei. They’re just as good this year as they were last year, if not better, with a big chip on their shoulder of not winning the sectional last year.
“But again, we’re going to show up down there and see what we can do.”