Lady Cats set for preseason hoop action

By Paul Adkins Sports Editor

November 21, 2013

Just eight months ago, the Logan High School girls’ basketball team made an improbable run to the Class AAA state championship game.

The Lady Cats ended up losing 58-34 to Parkersburg South at the Charleston Civic Center in the finals before a statewide TV audience on Network West Virginia.

It was a historical season, however, for Logan’s girls’ basketball program which has had its share of ups and downs.

No girls’ basketball team from Logan County had ever made it this far.

Fast-forward to today and the Lady Cats are back on the hardwood for another hoop season as the road to Charleston is set to begin.

Logan’s season opener is set for Dec. 3 at county rival Man — a team which reached the Class A state tourney last year in their own right.

With plenty of returning talent from last year’s team, including all-state players Shayna Gore and Monica Mitchell and a host of other starters, key reserves and talented newcomers, the Lady Cats are looking to put together another successful season.

Logan, 17-10 last year and battle-tested, will get its first taste of game action on Saturday at home with a preseason scrimmage against Nitro at Logan’s Willie Akers Arena. Tipoff is set for 11 a.m.

Logan will then have a second scrimmage against Scott in Madison on Nov. 30. The game will be played at Chris Adkins’ basketball court on Six Mile.

“They have a real nice facility in there and they have a great floor down there,” Logan coach Kevin Gertz said of the Madison court. “It’s a UK replica floor. The court is off the Six Mile exit and you go up there a mile. It’s a big, nice indoor facility. He’s got batting cages in there, too. It’s a nice set-up. Scott is very good and will have a very strong team. I’m not sure about Nitro. Their coach is trying to get that program turned around. Their coach said they needed a scrimmage, so I said, ‘Yes, we’ll play you.’ On Saturday, we’ll see where we are at.”

Last year was a magical season for the Lady Cats as the Logan girls marched all the way to the Class AAA state championship game at the Charleston Civic Center after state tourney wins over Princeton (77-66) and Spring Valley (52-49).

The Lady Cats are led by 5-foot-9 point guard and Marshall University recruit Gore, and 6-2 center Mitchell.

Last year’s state tournament wins put Logan’s girls’ program on the map.

The victory over Princeton was Logan’s first ever win in the state tourney. LHS had made it to the girls’ state basketball tournament in 1924, 1976 and 2000 and lost each year in the opening round.

The win over Spring Valley knocked out the No. 2 ranked Lady Wolves (23-4), a team which ripped the Lady Cats at Logan during the regular season and then barely beat LHS 68-67 in the Class AAA sectional title game at Huntington.

Gore netted 36 points in the win over Princeton. Mitchell had a double-double with 18 points and 17 boards.

Then, in an iconic moment in Logan sports history, Gore fed senior Hannah Tothe for a game-winning 3-point shot in the Spring Valley game in the state semifinals.

Coach Gertz has turned around the Lady Cats’ program in a remarkably few short years. Just four seasons ago, prior to Gertz’s arrival as Logan’s girls’ coach, LHS struggled through a 4-17 season.

Gore and Mitchell, along with a strong supporting class of players including Kyra Cline, Hannah Adkins, Summer Collins and others, are back for Logan this season. Graduated from last year’s squad are Tothe, Jenna Kimler and twins Kelsey and Katie Kirk.

Gore averaged 20 points a game last season while Mitchell averaged a double-double in points and rebounds. Gore helped Logan advance in last year’s sectional tourney as she poured in 27 points in a 78-70 first-round victory over No. 3 Huntington. Logan later toppled St. Albans, 57-46, on the road in the 3A regional title contest.

The Lady Cats will be challenged with a difficult schedule this winter.

The Lady Cats have home-and-home games with 3A sectional rivals Spring Valley and Huntington, as well as state powers Morgantown and Greenbrier East.

Logan plays Huntington St. Joe twice — once in Chapmanville Regional High School’s new Nationwide Classic and a second time on Feb. 18 at the Charleston Civic Center. Also on the schedule is a home-and-home against Class AA power Westside.

Logan plays county rival Chapmanville in January at home Logan’s King Coal Classic.

— The Logan Banner previews all six county boys and girls basketball teams in the coming weeks.