Paul AdkinsSports Editor
March 9, 2013
CHARLESTON — Eight years ago, Logan High School’s Brian Lane hit the “Shot Heard Round West Virginia” as he drilled a big jumper to lift the Wildcats into the state championship game.
Friday night was Hannah Tothe’s turn.
Tothe, Logan’s senior guard, nailed a wide-open 3-pointer with seven seconds left to lift the Logan girls’ basketball team to a 52-49 win over Spring Valley, putting Logan in Saturday night’s state championship game against Parkersburg South (19-7) at the Charleston Civic Center.
Logan (17-9) avenged two earlier defeats to No. 2-ranked and first-seeded Spring Valley, including a 68-67 loss in the sectional championship game and a 76-47 drubbing in early February at Logan.
Spring Valley, winners of 23 out of its last 24 games heading into Friday‘s contest, saw its season come to a shocking close at 23-4.
It was a different team the Lady Wolves faced at the Civic Center, however.
Logan has shown poise, confidence, intelligence and the swagger of a champion as the Lady Cats reached the Triple-A final.
Everything has seemed to fall into place for the Lady Cats, beginning with the 78-70 upset win over No. 3-ranked Huntington in the sectional title game and a 58-47 victory at St. Albans which sent Logan to Charleston.
The state tourney field then seemed to open up as No. 1 and unbeaten Greenbrier East was stunned in the regional tourney by nine-win Capital.
Logan has since taken their game and confidence to another level on the biggest stage of all.
Shayna Gore led the Lady Cats with 17 points in Friday’s game. She fed the ball to Tothe for the game-winner as she drew a double team.
Tothe was left all alone and drilled the 3-pointer, hitting all net. Tothe had 13 points for the game and connected on 4-of-6 from 3-point land.
“As soon as it left her hand, I knew it was going in,” Logan coach Kevin Gertz said.
Tothe said it felt good when she released the ball.
“I did think it was going in,” she said. “I was pretty confident when it came down to the wire. I knew that they were going to have to double Shayna because nobody can stop her on that team. They are all great players but no person on that team can take her one-on-one. I stood there wide open. When it came down to it I felt like we had confidence.”
Logan squandered a 13-point lead at the half as the Lady Cats went into the locker room on top 34-21 over the cold-shooting Lady Wolves.
Spring Valley fought its way back and finally pulled even at 47 with Brooke Heck’s glasser in the lane with 1:34 left.
The Lady Wolves then went ahead, 49-47, with 50 seconds to go as Sarah Kelly fired a two-thirds court baseball pass to Heck for a lay-in.
Gore answered with a baseline runner with 40 ticks remaining, drawing Logan even at 49.
Spring Valley then looked to hold for the last shot but Logan’s Monica Mitchell stole the ball away in the lane and drew a jumpball. The alternating possession went to Logan and Coach Gertz called timeout with 23 seconds left to set up the potential game-winning shot for Gore.
The sophomore point guard Gore, however, found a wide open Tothe for the winner. Tothe continued her clutch play in the post-season and has been a stabilizing force for the Lady Cats in their frantic run to the state championship game.
Tothe showed to have ice in her veins as she calmly made sweet string music with the net as she canned the triple.
Gertz said it was a great shot.
“It takes two people to stop Shayna,” he said. “This young lady to my left (Hannah Tothe) has given up more than any kid can possibly give up to turn this thing around. All my kids work hard in the gym and she’s done it for four years. She went through the lowest that our program has ever gone through. I’m so happy that she was the one. With all of hours that she has put into the gym with her dad she’s the one that wanted to take that shot. That’s a big part of it — wanting to take that last shot. When you do that you will succeed more than you will fail and she knocked it down.”
Tothe began with the Logan basketball program four years ago as a freshman and played on the Lady Cats’ 4-17 team.
Logan then rebounded to a 12-12 campaign in the 2010-11 season under then first-year coach Gertz. After last year’s hiccup losing season, Logan has now tasted glory and are one more victory away from winning it all.
“In the previous three years they had won 14 games,” Gertz said of Logan’s program prior to his arrival. “Then we won 12 games my first year.”
Tothe said it was nice to be a part of Logan’s turnaround.
“It feels pretty good,” she said. “We are in the championship and we have a shot to win it. There’s no better feeling. This year, I felt something special the whole year. When I was little in the All-Girls League they were saying that our senior year we will be going to state. Now we’re at state and now we’re playing in the state championship.”
After Tothe’s make from 3-point territory, Spring Valley still had one more chance. The Lady Wolves inbounded the ball and Kelly dribbled down court but her 3-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer.
Logan players celebrated at mid court as the Lady Cats enjoyed history in the making.
The Lady Cats became the first ever girls’ varsity basketball team from Logan County to advance to a state championship game.
When the state tourney began earlier in the week, Logan had never won a game at the Big Dance, losing first-round contests in 1924, 1976 and 2000.
The fifth-seeded Cinderella Lady Cats then knocked off No. 4 Princeton, 77-66, in Thursday’s quarterfinals and defeated Spring Valley in Friday night’s state semifinals.
Coach Gertz said he couldn’t be any prouder of his team for making it to the finals regardless of Saturday night’s outcome.
“I’ve said all along that I thought that Morgantown was the best team in the state but I think that we just beat the best team in the state,” he said of Spring Valley. “We knew that we just had to make the last run of the game. The thing about my kids is that they have heart like you wouldn’t believe. Almost every game that we play, especially against Triple-A teams, we are outathleted every night. But we are never out-hearted.”
Gore also had six assists, four steals and three rebounds in addition to her 17 points. She said it was sweet to move on to the finals.
“When we played them (Spring Valley) in the sectional championship game we knew win or lose that we were going to the regional championship,” she said. “We knew that if we came to play today we were going to be playing tomorrow. These past few weeks we knew that they (Spring Valley) were the best team in the state and we knew that it was going to come down to Spring Valley and us. We didn’t quit and I’m so proud of my team to be going to the state championship.”
Logan 6-2 freshman center Monica Mitchell finished with a double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and also five blocked shots.
Kyra Cline added four points, while Rachelle Toppings and Summer Collins had three each.
Spring Valley was led by Heck’s 20 points. Madison Morris had 15 points and 11 boards, while Kelly was held to five points. She had a triple-double with 20 points, 12 assists and 10 steals in the 84-60 quarterfinal win over Capital on Wednesday.
Kassidy Lemmons had three points, while Mackenzie Morris, Emily Butcher and Jordan Ratcliff had two points.
The Lady Wolves were able to stay in the game despite poor shooting. Spring Valley was just 19-for-62 from the floor for 30.6 percent. The Lady Wolves were a woeful 1-for-16 from 3-point territory and were only 8-for-31 shooting in the first half as SV went into the locker room down by 13 points.
Logan was 20-for-47 shooting for 42.6 percent for the game and made 9-for-16 treys for a red-hot 56.3 percent. Gore was also big as she nailed 3-of-5 shots from downtown.
The Lady Cats were only 3-for-9 from the foul line while Spring Valley was 10-for-17.
Spring Valley outrebounded Logan 45-32. The Lady Cats advanced despite turning the ball over 26 times in the game which moved at a fast pace and was often times very physical with bodies flying. Spring Valley had 20 turnovers.
Logan led 13-2 early and held a 14-10 advantage after one quarter.
The Lady Cats led 34-21 at the break after outscoring the Lady Wolves 20-11 in the second.
“We dug ourselves a big hole in the first half,” Spring Valley coach Larry “Bo” Miller said. “We fought back in the second half and we played like we should be playing. We just couldn’t get it done at the end.”
The Lady Wolves were able to cut into Logan’s lead in the third quarter, outscoring the Lady Cats 15-9 to pull to within 43-36.
Logan had led 42-32 when Gore drilled a 3-pointer with 37 ticks to go but Spring Valley scored four quick points as Ratcliff banked one in and Madison Morris then scored off a turnover with 11 seconds remaining, trimming Logan’s lead to seven.
Then in the fourth, Spring Valley closed the gap to 43-40 with 5:31 left in the game after a lay-in glasser by Heck.
Cline then hit a 3 for Logan, but the Lady Wolves eventually answered with a short 7-footer by Madison Morris with 2:51 left to make it a 47-45 ballgame in favor of LHS.
It just wasn’t meant to be for the Lady Wolves which saw their season come to an abrupt end in a frantic last couple of minutes of the fourth quarter.
“That’s the way the game is played. We like to play with a lot of chaos,” Miller said. “We couldn’t get that kind of chaos in the first half. In the second half we fought back but we missed some shots.”
Kelly said her team never threw in the towel despite the 13-point halftime hole to Logan.
“We never gave up. We fought hard and we weren’t going to give it to them easy,” Kelly said. “But it was tough because they knew what we were doing every play probably. They played us well.”
Logan raced out to a fast 5-0 start after a 12-footer by Gore and a Gore trifecta.
After going on top 13-2 Spring Valley went on an 8-1 run to trail 14-10 after one.
Logan then kept the heat on the Lady Wolves in the second with a 12-2 run to grab a 26-12 lead. Gore keyed the scoring spree with a layup and a 3-pointer, while Tothe hit a 3 and Mitchell scored a pair of buckets down low.
Later on, a 3-ball by Collins from the corner kept LHS on top by a 31-16 score.
Tothe then fired up the nets by scorching another 3-pointer with three ticks left as Logan led 34-23 at the break.
The Lady Cats won the game despite being outrebounded on the offensive glass by a 21-7 margin. Heck added nine boards for Spring Valley.
Coach Gertz talked about his friendship with Coach Miller in the post-game press conference. After the game, Gertz hugged Spring Valley player Madison Morris. Many of the Lady Wolves’ players walked off the court with their heads down, weeping, realizing the season had come to a close in the semifinals.
“Our boys’ team played Spring Valley in the sectional and their weren’t a whole lot of kids from either school at that game,” Gertz said. “I sat with my girls, the one’s who went, at the top of the bleachers. Sarah and Madi sat with our girls and talked the entire time. That’s a great thing about athletics. You fight to the death out there but you develop friendships that last a lifetime. That’s what these kids are doing right now. They are great kids. I hugged Sarah and a hugged Madi. They are phenomenal kids.”
Gore also stayed on the court to console Morris, who is her teammate in AAU basketball.
“As soon as Hannah hit that shot and the buzzer rang I saw Madi start to cry,” Gore said. “With her being my AAU teammate I just thought that I would go over there and talk to her and just tell her to keep her head up because she’s a heck of a ballplayer. If they would have won they would have deserved it. Madi is one of my teammates and I wanted to show her some respect after the game.”
Gertz also had praise for Cline’s defensive effort on Kelly for helping shut her down.
“Kyra Cline was on Sarah Kelly for the entire night,” he said. “Sarah had five points and I guarantee that’s her season low. Everyone is so caught up in how many points someone scores but Kyra has sacrificed so much with her defensive effort. She’s always been a scorer. Last year, she was our second or third leading scorer. She has sacrificed shooting the basketball to taking on their best player. She’s as big a reason that we are here than anybody else. She’s done a great job.”
Gertz has not been in the best of health. He had a heart attack before the start of the season and underwent bypass surgery. He has also been under a lot of stress lately with the pressures of Logan’s state tournament run.
“I’ve struggled today,” he said. “I haven’t slept much the last few weeks. I’m not doing great but I need to go get checked out. I’m not where I should be to coach this way. But I’m so proud of my girls. I’ve never been a part of a game like this and win or lose I’m just proud to be a part of it.”
Logan was set to play Parkersburg South on Saturday night in the finals. South was led by Taryn McCutcheon’s 23 points in the semifinal win over Morgantown.
The Patriots were a 67-39 winner over Hedgesville in the quarterfinals.
In Class AA, No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Westside was scheduled to play Bridgeport in the finals on Saturday afternoon, while Class A No. 1 Huntington St. Joe was slated to battle it out with No. 3 St. Marys in the small school championship game.
Westside advanced with a 51-41 win over Fairmont in Friday’s semifinals. The Renegades rolled over Pikeview 68-41 in the first round.