All of the tools are in place for the Logan High School girls’ basketball team to have another big season.
But the pressure will be on the Lady Cats because they won’t be sneaking up on anyone this season.
Last year was a magical one 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).
Logan eventually lost in the state finals to Parkersburg South 58-34 before a statewide TV audience on Network West Virginia.
It was a historic season.
No girls’ basketball team from Logan — or Logan County for that matter — had ever reached a state championship game.
It was the zenith so far for Logan coach Kevin Gertz, who has built the program from the ground up in only four years.
No longer would the Logan Lady Cats be a schedule padder for Class AAA teams from the Kanawha Valley or Huntington areas.
In short, the Lady Cats are a force to be reckoned with.
For those that did not know that heading into the stretch drive of the regular season a year ago, they learned that hard lesson last March during the Class AAA state tournament.
This season, the Logan girls have a challenge to make it back to the state tourney and reach the state championship game again.
It won’t be easy.
Although Logan returns the bulk of last year’s team, including all-state performers Shayna Gore, a 5-foot-9 Marshall University commitment and junior point guard and 6-2 sophomore center Monica Mitchell, the Lady Cats will have a rigorous schedule.
Still, all the pieces to the puzzle are in place for Logan to make another run.
The Lady Cats just have to go out and do it.
“What we did last year is that it got our girls’ program noticed,” said Coach Gertz, who led Logan to last year’s 17-10 season and runner-up finish. “It made girls’ basketball in Logan something special and a priority in my opinion. It had never been done before. I thought by the end of the season we would be good but I didn’t dream that we would be that good. Going into the sectionals I had hoped that we would be in the top two so we could just get a chance to go to state.”
Logan did just that, knocking off Huntington in the first round of the sectional before falling 68-67 to Spring Valley in the finals.
The sectional runner-up finish put Logan in the regionals where LHS won 57-46 at St. Albans to advance to state.
Then in Charleston in the state tourney, Logan defeated Princeton in the first round before getting paybacks on Spring Valley with a thrilling last-second victory over the No. 2-ranked Lady Wolves in the semifinals.
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.
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.
Gore, Mitchell and Tothe were named to the Class AAA all-tournament team.
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. 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.
Gertz said he hopes Logan can make it back to the state tourney.
“This whole thing is a stepping stone,” he said. “We are nowhere where we want to be yet although we played in the state championship game. We had a good team last year but I honestly think that this year’s team will be better and quite a bit better. But when I say that, we could also lose our first sectional game but because we are more athletic and have so much more experience coming back I don’t see this program stopping anytime soon.”
With more speed and team quickness, look for the Lady Cats to run and gun. Logan has the potential with its shooters and scorers to put up 70 or more points a game.
“We’re going to be a completely different style of team over the next several years,” he said. “We’re going to be more like Coach Akers’ old teams with the athletes and running up and down the floor. We’re going to press quite a bit. We’re going to put a lot of pressure on the other teams and we’re going to be very deep. We’re going to play 13 to 15 girls a night. There’s nobody in the state that is going to be any deeper than us. If there is anyone any deeper it will shock me. We’re going to try to wear you down.”
Gertz said he’s happy to have so many players back. Cline, a 5-6 junior guard will also be key to Logan’s success along with Gore and Mitchell.
“We return Shayna, our school’s first first-team all-stater,” he said. “Monica was third team last year but in my opinion she should have been on the first team. She was the best center in the state. We also have Kyra Cline back and what she gave up and did defensively is the reason that we went as far as we did last season. She sacrificed her scoring to guard the best player every night.”
Gertz said Gore and Mitchell are a perfect inside/ouside one-two punch because they complement each other so well.
“I’m not saying that there are players in this state that can’t do what Shayna does and the same for Monica but to have them on the same team that’s unbelievable,” Gertz said. “It takes more than one person to stop Shayna and it defintely takes more than one person to stop Monica. It frees up so many other players. We’re going to be hard to stop but we are not going to go undefeated. We maybe might not go back to the state tournament but my gosh if you are going to beat us you are going to have to bring your A game in my opinion. I think that we’re going to be very good and a top five team in this state. That’s what I see.”
Also back are Hannah Adkins (5-8 junior) and Hannah Kolovich (5-7 senior) as well as Summer Collins (5-6 junior), Aarron Ward (5-7 junior) and Ashton Spry (5-8 sophomore).
“Hannah Kolovich is our only senior,” Gertz said. “She is a tremendous leader and handles the ball extremely well. She’s going to play power forward. Summer Collins is a phenominal athlete. Aarron Ward is a multi-sport athlete in this school and a great athlete. We also have some new girls who had played before or had been in our program before who hadn’t played. One of those is Adrianna Herrera. She’s going to be a super player for us as well as Madi Trent.”
Adkins, Cline and Collins saw ample court time last year.
“They are all three so athletic,” Gertz said. “There were several games that we made big runs coming from behind. We beat Morgantown down 18 late in the third quarter and we beat Huntington down 22 at the half. Those were the girls that were in the game that led to the comeback. Summer jumps and runs really well. Hannah Adkins can fly. Hannah will probably be a four and a power forward for us but she’s been a point guard her whole life. That’s where we are going to creat matchup problems with our four guards.”
Logan also has some freshmen who Gertz says could be key contributors.
“We have one of those freshmen who might be in our top four or five already in Lexi Hines. Sydney Roberts is another freshman who is coming in who could see major minutes for us,” Gertz said. “We are so deep and we only lose one player from this year’s team for next year. Last year we were bigger and more physical. This year we are so much quicker. These girls have worked all year long conditioning and getting ready for the style of play that we are going to play. The girls are in shape and we are really going to run.”
The Lady Cats will be challenged with a difficult schedule this winter.
The season begins on Dec. 3 at county rival Man, a Class A state tournament team from a year ago. Logan then goes to South Charleston on Dec. 11 and then plays defending Class A state champion Huntington St. Joe on Dec. 14 at 2 p.m. in the all-day Nationwide Classic at Chapmanville.
Logan’s schedule is filled with tough games.
The Lady Cats also have home-and-home games with 3A sectional rivals Huntington and Spring Valley, state power Morgantown and Greenbrier East.
Logan plays St. Joe a second time on Feb. 18 at the Charleston Civic Center and also has home-and-homes against 2A teams Westside and Tolsia, 3A Winfield and 2A county rival Chapmanville. The Jan. 11 meeting with Chapmanville falls in Logan’s King Coal Classic tourney.
The Lady Cats play Man a second time on Jan. 27 at home and also play Chapmanville on Dec. 30 on the road.
Logan’s other opponent this season is Lincoln County.
Gertz said a tough schedule will get you ready for post-season play. His philosophy was proven true last year with Logan’s march to state.
“I get this a lot from dad. People ask me, ‘Who do you do this? Last year, proved why,” Gertz said. “We can schedule teams and go 18-4 and 20-2 but I don’t think that will get you ready and battle tested. Last year, it might have been too much because we played nine games in the last 15 days in the regular season. We dropped Capital this year and they were a state tournament team last year but we picked up Huntington St. Joe who is the best team in this state in any class.”
Gertz said Logan’s sectional is loaded with Spring Valley, Huntington and Cabell Midland. Lincoln County is the other Class AAA sectional team.
“That’s very tough,” Gertz said. “Last year, when our season was over the very last poll showed that four out of the state’s top 10 teams were in our own section. We were 10th and made it to the state finals. I’m excited about this year.”
Logan’s sectional tourney will once again be played at Huntington High School.
Gertz said the sectionals will then go to a rotating system and Logan will be the host of the Class AAA sectional tournament in 2015.
“We took a vote to rotate and Huntington got it first. Next year, we will get it,” Gertz said. “My junior kids’ senior year will get the sectionals here for the first time in a long time.”
The Logan girls have not hosted a sectional tourney since 2004 when the Lady Cats toppled Scott in the finals in Logan’s Class AA days. Logan played several years in Class AA sectional tourneys at Williamson.
Ryan Waugh returns to Coach Gertz’s staff.
One of last year’s assistants, Danielle Dalton, has left to Chapmanville to teach. Sean Ferguson has been added to the staff. Hannah Tothe, a player last year, is a volunteer assistant.
Logan High School Lady Cats
2013-14 Girls’ Basketball Schedule:
Dec. 3: at Man, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 11: at South Charleston, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 14: vs. Huntington St. Joe at Chapmanville, 2 p.m.
Dec. 18: at Tolsia, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 20: Huntington, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 26: at Spring Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 30: at Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 3: South Charleston, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 4: Morgantown, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 6: Man, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 11: Chapmanville (King Coal Classic at Logan), 2 p.m.
Jan. 16: at Lincoln County, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 18: at Greenbrier East, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 20: at Winfield, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 22: at Westside, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 28: Tolsia, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 31: at Morgantown, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 3: Westside, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 10: Greenbrier East, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 12: Lincoln County, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 17: Winfield, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 18: vs. Huntington St. Joe (at Charleston Civic Center), 4 p.m.