by Beau Wicker
Logansport’s girls basketball team has championship aspirations this season.
The Class 4A No. 5 Berries finished like a championship team Saturday afternoon at Anderson, making the big plays down the stretch in a 61-48 win.
The defending North Central Conference champs improved to 10-0 and 3-0 in the NCC with the win. The Berries have now won 10 straight league games.
“It’s a big relief to get this win,” said Logansport guard Whitney Jennings, who led the Berries with 24 points and seven assists in the contest. “We’ve got some really tough games coming up, so it’s only going to prepare us for those.”
Logan closed the game with a 15-0 run that spanned the final five minutes after trailing 48-46 at one point.
Jennings found Krista Kyyroenen open for a layup to tie the game at 48-all. Nakeya Penny then broke Anderson’s press and scored to give Logan the lead for good.
Jennings hit from 22 feet with 3:15 to go to make it 53-48. The Berries hit all eight of their free throws down the stretch, with Jennings hitting four, Penny two and Rachel Jennings two.
“This was our first game we’ve been down,” Whitney Jennings said. “So to come back and battle like that in the second half like that, I’m really proud of my teammates.”
The Berries trailed 33-21 with two minutes left to play in the first half, but they were able to cut the deficit to 35-29 at halftime.
“[The Indians] were lights out the first half,” Whitney Jennings said. “We changed our defense the second half hoping they would miss some.”
The Indians (6-2, 2-1 NCC) shot 38.7 percent from the field and hit 6 of 18 from 3-point range in the first half. But the Berries outscored them 32-13 in the second half, holding them to just 17.2 percent shooting and 3 of 13 from behind the arc.
“We switched from our Red [2-3 zone defense] to our Black, which is a 1-2-2,” Whitney Jennings said. “We 52’d them a little, which is a press. We just got out on their shooters and pushed the ball. It worked in the second half.”
Logan held Anderson scoreless through the first five minutes of the second half and grabbed a 39-35 lead. Whitney Jennings scored the final four points of the third quarter and the first three points of the fourth to give Logan a 46-42 lead. Anderson’s Da’Sha Boyd and Darrien Thompson made back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Indians a brief lead before Whitney Jennings’ assist to Kyyroenen, who battled through an ankle injury.
Logan starter Seanna Redman left the game with 5:31 remaining in the third quarter with a knee injury and did not return.
Penny had 17 points for Logan, and Rachel Jennings scored 11. Kiley Victor added six points, 11 boards and three steals.
The Berries entered the game having dominated opponents by a state-best 39.3 points per game, but it took them awhile to adjust to a step up in the level of competition. They committed a season-high 17 turnovers and missed a number of contested layups against Anderson’s constant pressure defense.
“I didn’t think we played very well, but we played when we had to play,” Logan coach Jerry Hoover said. “We missed five lay-ins. If we get those five lay-ins it’s not even a ballgame.
“Let’s face it, we haven’t played this kind of quickness, and their quickness led to several long passes that were intercepted. And we’ve been getting those long passes for layups. So we’re going to learn from this and go on and see what we can do.”
Boyd scored 11 points and Chelsea Bentley had 10 points and eight boards to lead the Indians. Na-Shaundra Rayford scored nine, and Sharice Jones chipped in eight.
Hoover wanted to credit his coaching staff for the win in holding the high-scoring Indians to just 48 points for the game. Anderson entered averaging 77.7 ppg, second in the state and tops in Class 4A.
“We got them to missing a little bit, and I’ll tell you what, our coaching staff did a great job. We had a lot of suggestions that we put on the floor from [Doug] Jennings, [Kevin] Bullard and [Dick] Farrer that translated to the floor, that then translated to baskets and stops. It was a very good job by the coaching staff,” he said.
Logan hosts Carmel on Friday.