Logan hopes to erase last year’s bad memories at this year’s state tournament and advance to the semifinals with a first round win.
It won’t be easy, however, as No. 8-seed Logan (17-8) has drawn No. 1 Martinsburg (22-2) for one of the four state quarterfinals on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center. The Bulldogs advanced with a 69-52 regional final win over Bridgeport. The Wildcats made it to state after defeating Winfield, 59-50, in the Region 4 co-championship game at home.
In other Class AAA state tourney quarterfinal games this week: No. 2 Wheeling Park (20-5) takes on No. 7 Hedgesville (20-6) on Wednesday at 11:15 a.m.; No. 3 South Charleston (22-3) squares off with No. 6 Parkersburg (19-6) on Thursday at 7:15 p.m.; and No. 4 Fairmont (21-4) battles with No. 5 seed and defending state champ George Washington (19-6) on Thursday at 11:15 a.m.
Class AAA state tourney quarterfinal winners will advance to play next Friday, March 16 at 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the semifinals.
The 3A state final is set for St. Patricks Day on Saturday at 7:15 p.m.
The state championship game will be broadcast live on Suddenlink’s Network West Virginia/Channel 2.
Logan comes into the state tourney on a roll having won four straight games, including sectional and regional championship game wins.
“I’m real happy the way that we are playing,” Logan coach Mark Hatcher said on Monday. “We’ve been playing some pretty good defense and we’re rebounding very well. It just seems like the players have been much more focused. That five-game losing streak was tough on us. We could have folded the tent there but we’ve turned the corner and have started playing good basketball again.”
Hatcher said the Wildcats are playing much better team ball than they were in earlier portions of the season.
“Our senior leadership has been good. Those guys have stepped up,” Hatcher said. “With Worm (Brynden Street), in the starting lineup that has helped and has given us a shot of energy. Everyone has come together and has done their jobs better.”
Martinsburg is led by Donte’ Grantham, a 6-foot-6 junior forward, who scored a game-high 26 points and 11 rebounds against Bridgeport. He scored half of those points in the third quarter as Martinsburg pushed its lead to 22 points. He’s the team leading scorer at 16.4 points per game.
“He’s pretty tough,” Hatcher said of Grantham. “He’s awfully good but their whole team is very talented and very athletic. They are probably a step above everybody else in our state as far as athletes and talent goes. They shoot the ball well. They’ve got size and they’ve got speed. They have a great player in the Grantham kid. They have a great coach, too, so they’re a tough match-up. The one thing that we do have is a little bit more experience over there (at the Civic Center). We’ve played on the floor a little bit.”
Jordan Robinson, Martinsburg’s 6-4 junior forward, tallied 12 points against the Indians. He averages 6.9 points per contest.
Robinson helped the Bulldogs out early in the second quarter with a 3-point bomb from the corner after Bridgeport had trimmed the Bulldog advantage to seven points. Martinsburg’s lead never fell under double digits the rest of the way.
Martinsburg is also led by Brandon Ashenfelter, who quarterbacked the Bulldogs’ football team to two straight undefeated football seasons. Against Bridgeport, he had a double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds. Ashenfelter, a 6-2 senior forward, averages 9.8 points a game.
Martinsburg cleaned the glass against the Indians as the Bulldogs held a 53-32 rebound advantage.
The Bulldogs used an 11-0 run to lead 17-5 after one quarter of play.
“Going into the state as the No. 1 team will be hard, because everybody wants to knock you off every night,” Ashenfelter told the Martinsburg Journal.
Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers said the Bulldogs took care of business to reach the state tourney.
“We came in and did what we needed to do. We can start any of eight players, all depends on what we still need,” he told the Martinsburg newspaper.
Grantham netted nine straight points in the third quarter as Martinsburg pulled away from the Indians.
The Bulldogs were just 25-for-65 from the field for 38 percent but are glad to be advancing to Charleston.
“We can’t take anyone lightly,” Grantham told the Martinsburg paper. “When you make it to Charleston, you know you have to be a good basketball team.”
Martinsburg is also led by 6-1 junior guard Jalen Lewis, who averages 15 points a contest. Adonijah Gilmore, a 5-7 senior guard, checks in at 8.1 points a game, while Denzel Mciver-Cole, a 6-0 junior guard, averages 5.3 points a game.
Martinsburg has added size with 6-5 junior Eugene German (4.3 ppg.), 6-4 senior Blake Hull and 6-6 sophomore Brian Hairston.
The Bulldogs’ only two losses of the season came in back-to-back games with a 58-50 defeat on Jan. 31 at home against Washington and a 63-60 setback on Feb. 3 at Beckley.
Martinsburg began the season with 14-0 record. Then after the two losses, the Bulldogs have reeled off eight straight wins heading into the state tournament.
MHS went 2-0 against rival and Class AAA state tourney team Hedgesville with wins of 52-35 and 70-60.
“They’re a good team but hopefully we can put up some points on them and play some good defense,” Hatcher said of the Bulldogs. “We’ve got a shot.”
Logan is led by 6-3 senior guard Stevie Browning, who averages 25 points a game. Da’jon Streeter, a 6-4 sophomore guard, averages 15.5 points a contest, while 6-3 senior forward Keaton Johnson checks in at 11.2 points a game.
Hatcher said the Class AAA field is strong. The Wildcats have already played Wheeling Park, GW and Parkersburg this season going 1-3 against those teams.
“It’s a pretty good field,” Hatcher said. “Other than Martinsburg it might be a year where there’s not a standout team. They are all good teams but anybody can beat anybody. If all four of the bottom seeded teams win I don’t think that it will be that big of a surprise. It seems that everyone is excited to get this thing going on Wednesday.”
Logan and Martinsburg have played each other before in the Hatcher era and earlier.
Back in 2001, Logan traveled to play at Martinsburg and lost 78-51 to the Bulldogs. On the Martinsburg team that year as 6-11 center Kevin Pittsnogle, who would later play for the WVU Mountaineers before having a short stint with the NBA’s Boston Celtics in 2006 and also in the CBA and the NBA’s developmental league.
Pittsnogle played for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ summer league team in 2007 and followed that up with a short stint in the French Pro A league. He attempted a comeback in 2009 in the NBA D-League but retired the following year.
Logan later met up with Martinsburg in the 2003-04 season and lost to the Bulldogs on the road, 58-52, over Christmas break.
Martinsburg then came to Willie Akers Arena the next season and Logan got its revenge by blowing out the Bulldogs 65-53. Logan, led by Lou Green that season, went on to capture the Class AA state championship with a 60-56 win over Westside in the finals at the Charleston Civic Center. Logan went on to win the 2010 title under Hatcher as a 3A school.
That year, the Wildcats topped Weir (62-54) in the state tourney opener, then knocked off Winfield, 67-64 in double overtime, in arguably one of the greatest games in Logan basketball history.
The December 2004 meeting at Logan is the last time the Wildcats and the Bulldogs have met.
“They played us at home and we went up there a couple of times,” Hatcher said. “The last time we played them in the state tournament was in 1995. Martinsburg beat us in the first round. In 2001 we went over there and played Martinsburg. We went over to Washington D.C. to watch Michael Jordan and the Washington Wizards play, then we went to Martinsburg to play Pittsnogle. Shane Noel had a nice dunk for us in that game and that got them mad. They came out and beat us after that.”