HAMMOND — Logansport’s girls basketball team was in position for its second comeback victory in as many years at the Region Roundball Rumble Wednesday at the Hammond Civic Center.
But the Berries didn’t put the game away when they had the chance, and Gary West Side made them pay.
DeJah Joshua hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Cougars to a 52-51 win and hand the Class 4A No. 6 Berries their first loss of the season.
Kennedy Curl hit 1 of 2 free throws with 10.1 seconds left to give the Berries (11-1) a 51-49 lead. The second attempt was long, and Gary West (7-2) quickly pushed the ball up the court. The Berries converged on Dana Evans, a freshman who has already received big-time Division I offers, leaving Joshua open from the left wing. And Joshua’s shot was pure, dropping into the basket just as the final horn sounded.
“We lost one of those my sophomore year against Lebanon,” Logansport’s Whitney Jennings said. “It’s always hard to lose on a buzzer-beater, but when we got into the locker room I told my teammates I hate losing as much as the next person, but this is only going to make us better for the tournament and the rest of the year. So we’ve just got to learn from it and we’ll be fine.”
The Berries had a slow start offensively, making just 8 of 26 shots and committing five turnovers in falling behind 31-22 at the half. Jennings, who entered averaging 35.5 ppg, was held to just six on 2 of 10 shooting in the half.
But Jennings led the comeback in the third quarter, scoring 11 points and assisting the other two baskets as the Berries pulled to within 40-39 after three.
Jennings scored on a jumper in the corner and then on a scoop through multiple defenders to give Logan a 45-44 lead with 4:55 left. Nakeya Penny then swished one in from 3 and then scored on a bank shot to make it 50-47 Logan with 3:50 remaining.
But Logan would score just one more point the rest of the way. Penny and Jennings each missed a shot, the Berries had a turnover — their only one of the second half — and Jennings had the front end of a 1-and-1 roll off the rim with a one-point lead with 34.8 seconds left.
Curl then came up with a steal and was fouled to give the Berries a two-point lead temporarily before Joshua’s heroics.
“We came back in the game, had them right where we wanted them,” Logan coach Jerry Hoover said. “You’ve got to knock down free throws and make lay-ins. It’s better that it happens now than in the sectionals or regionals.”
Jennings scored 15 in the second half and was 7 of 16 from the field in the final two quarters. She made several very difficult shots to give the Berries the lead but missed a couple close ones in the final four minutes.
“I missed a couple bunnies and a free throw there, but that’s basketball sometimes and you’ve just got to take it as it is and move on and we’ll be fine,” said. “We’ll come back against Central Catholic and we’ll be fine.
“They force you to take tough shots, especially in the first half they weren’t falling. But I’m proud of my teammates for battling back in the second half and coming out with all of the energy that we had.”
Jennings finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals in the contest. Penny had 22 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots. Maddie Dalton chipped in five points and Curl added three points and six boards.
“I thought Nakeya came on and played probably the best she has this year, so we’ll be fine,” Hoover said.
Joshua led the Cougars with 11 points and eight rebounds. Ashley Danzy had 10 points. Evans added nine points and five assists.
The Berries led in most of the statistical categories except rebounding, as they were outrebounded 46-33 including 15-6 on the offensive glass.
“We’re not big enough,” Hoover said. “We’re not very big compared to the teams we play. This team wasn’t bigger but they had a couple people that got after it. ... Hey in a game like this you think about one possession and that’s the ballgame.”
The Berries almost had an impressive comeback victory but had it thwarted by a buzzer-beater.
As for the reason of his team’s slow start, Hoover said, “I don’t have an answer for that.”
The Berries played 2-3 zone and got stops more consistently after falling behind 21-13 after one quarter.
“Nothing different. We made a few adjustments,” Hoover said.
The Berries travel to Lafayette Central Catholic Saturday for a 1 p.m. JV start time.