Lady Cats take down Motown
by Paul Adkins
Since the re-emergence of the Logan High School girls’ basketball program in the post Title IX days of the mid-1970s, the Lady Cats have recorded some significant wins.
Logan’s girls have made it to the state tournament twice in its history — in 1976 and again in 2000.
But there may not have been any bigger a win in the program’s 37-year history than on Friday night when the Lady Cats took down Class AAA No. 3-ranked Morgantown, 64-61, at Logan High School’s Willie Akers Arena.
Simply put, the win over the state powerhouse Lady Mohigans was a game-changer, possibly a program changer.
Yes, it was that huge.
Logan was outplayed by Morgantown in the first half and went into the locker room down by 12 points, 36-24.
The Lady Cats trailed the Lady Mohigans by as many as 18 points in the third quarter but came roaring back, led by Shayna Gore and Kyra Cline and all but dominated the second half. Logan held on to win in the closing seconds as Gore rejected a possible game-tying 3-pointer with three seconds left.
When it was all over, Gore raised her hands in the air in victory then slapped her hands on the hardwood before 6-foot-2 freshman center Monica Mitchell lifted the all-state sophomore guard. Summer Collins and Hannah Tothe were in the foreground trading high-fives and hugs.
The Logan crowd roared as the buzzer went off, rivaling the noise level that you would hear at a typical boys’ game.
Friday night’s game had all of the makings of a marquee matchup.
It had a Logan boys’ game kind of atmosphere, complete with the pre-game laser light show, player introductions and Logan boys’ P.A. announcer Justin Turner.
Heck, even legendary coach Willie Akers was in the house among the estimated 600 fans in the crowd.
It was a huge game, a huge atmosphere and one for the history books.
Logan’s girls rose to the challenge and made a statement.
“Our girls don’t quit,” Logan coach Kevin Gertz said. “That’s the big thing. Usually at halftime I’m as bad as my old buddy Mark Hatcher. I rant and rave and I scream and holler. But this time I didn’t raise my voice. Not one time. I wrote the number 22 on the board, then I wrote the number 12. And I said, ‘Does anyone know what these two numbers mean?’ And Jenna (Kimler) said we were down 22 at Huntington at the half. I said, ’Yes, and now we’re down 12.’ I said that we’ve got 10 less points that we have to make up. I said, ‘Let’s go do it. It’s the biggest crowd the girls’ basketball program here has ever had … ever. I said, ‘These people want to get excited.’ I told them all night that we should give them something to get excited about. We did just that. We gave them something to be excited about.”
Gertz said he felt fortunate to only be down 12 points at the half as well as Morgantown played and shot the ball. It was a near flawless first-half performance by the Lady Mohigans but yet the Lady Cats only trailed by a dozen. It could have been 20.
“That’s what I told them,” Gertz said. “I said, ‘Girls, I don’t think they can possibly shoot as well as they did in the first half. If they do, they are going to set the national 3-point record tonight.’ They made seven or eight alone in the first half.”
Logan improved to 5-2 on the season with the win. Morgantown, a previous Class AAA No. 1 team in the state, fell to 7-3. The Lady Mohigans have been also beaten this season by rival University (49-41) and Mount Lebanon, Pa. (64-47), one of the top-ranked teams in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“I’m very proud of them tonight,” Gertz said. “I think tonight we beat the best team in the state. They were number one in the state. They lost to University last week. That’s their cross-town rival. It’s worse than Logan and Chapmanville. They also lost to the number three team in the state of Pennsylvania. They started three people 6-1 or better and their first person off the bench is 6-2. We don’t have anyone with that size.”
The Lady Cats hadn’t played a game since way back on Dec. 18 when Logan beat Tolsia 51-41 at home, so Coach Gertz was also concerned about being rusty after the long Christmas break.
There were no signs of any of that.
“I was worried about today,” Gertz said. “I knew how good Morgantown was and we’ve been off for 18 days. That’s not something that I planned to do but nobody would play us over the holidays.”
Gore and Cline were the catalysts for Logan against Morgantown as the duo scored 25 and 15 points respectively. Both netted three big 3-point shots. Mitchell was held to seven points but hauled down 12 rebounds.
“Our starters played well,” Gertz said. “Monica didn’t score like she’s been scoring but Shayna and Kyra shot the daylights out of it. Hannah Tothe also did a great job.”
Tothe finished with five points for Logan.
The Lady Cats also got key contributions from three players off the bench — Jenna Kimler (five points), Summer Collins (four points) and Hannah Adkins (three points). Adkins had a few key steals late in the game as Morgantown’s offense seemed to unravel.
“The three girls who I thought were as key to this victory were Summer Collins, Hannah Adkins and Jenna Kimler,” Gertz said. “Summer’s defense was unbelievable. Hannah and Jenna were absolutely huge. I think that’s the best game those three have ever played wearing the Gold and Blue. Their roles that they played and accepted helped the other ones when they were so tired.”
Logan switched its defensive scheme in the second half.
“We went to a 1-3-1. I don’t think that we played it well but I think that it confused the daylights out of them,” Gertz said. “We first went to a triangle and two and that’s where it started.”
The Lady Cats also got a break when Morgantown star player Haley Holloway got into foul trouble. Holloway finished with 20 points and hit on three 3s and helped the Lady Mohigans gain a first-half advantage.
But in the second half, Holloway picked up her fourth foul and saw limited minutes. She finally fouled out with a little more than a minute left in the game.
“Thank God,” Gertz said, smiling when asked about Holloway. “She stayed in foul trouble.”
Morgantown was also led by Caroline Colombo, who tossed in 18 points and also nailed three treys.
The Lady Cats cut the deficit to just 48-42 after three quarters of play and then made their move in the fourth.
A 3-pointer by Gore with 7:24 to go cut it to 50-45.
Mitchell’s turnaround 12-footer with 7:02 left then cut it to 50-47.
Then with 3:20 remaining Gore backed down to the paint and scored off the dribble to tie it up at 53.
With 2:27 to go, Gore put Logan ahead for the first time at 56-55 after canning a 3-pointer.
Cline then put Logan ahead by three at 58-55 after two makes from the free throw line.
Morgantown’s Holloway tied it with a 3 before she hacked Adkins with 1:17 left and fouled out of the game. Adkins swished both foul shots as Logan led 60-58 for good.
The foul shots turned out to be the difference.
Cline hit a bucket and Gore split from the line to make it 63-58 Logan with 34.4 ticks left.
Morgantown’s Leah Taylor briefly got her team back in it with a 3 with 26 second remaining to make it 63-61.
Gore split again at the foul line with 22.9 showing on the clock, making it a 64-61 ballgame.
It was still a one possession game and the Lady Mohigans had one last shot.
Morgantown dribbled down the court, looking for a 3 but Logan trapped Colombo in the corner. She eventually got the ball off to Taylor, who looked to launch from the corner. Her potential game-tying 3-pointer was blocked at the buzzer by Gore as Logan secured the big upset win.
“They’re a good team and that’s why we want to play these games,” Gertz said of Morgantown.
Morgantown had jumped on top of Logan 8-0 after a pair of Holloway 3s. Gertz called timeout with 5:49 showing on the clock.
Down 13-2, a 3-pointer by Gore cut it to 13-5.
Tothe and Cline hit back-to-back treys for Logan, slicing the margin to 16-11.
Holloway, though, hit a 3-point bomb with 13 seconds left as Morgantown led 19-11 after one quarter of play.
In the second, Gore’s 15-foot shot off the dribble made it 23-15. Cline later nailed a triple to make it 28-18.
But Morgantown went on a 6-0 run after 3s by Holloway and Colombo to expand the lead to 34-18 — its largest up until that point.
Logan then went on a 6-2 run to go into the half down by 12.
In the third it looked as if Morgantown might run away with it as the Lady Mohigans went on a 7-1 run to take a commanding 43-25 lead. Colombo finished off the run with a layup.
The Lady Cats, however, awoke from their slumber.
With Holloway on the bench with four fouls, Logan charged back.
Gore and Cline got LHS started with two straight 3s to make it 43-31.
An inside-the-paint bucket by Mitchell later cut it to 48-40 with 2:03 left in the third.
Then it was Gore who fed Adkins on a nice cross court bounce pass for a layup with 1:31 remaining to make it 48-42 after three. The hoop finished off Logan’s 17-5 run.
Logan then took care of business in the fourth and pulled off the big win — the Lady Cats third victory this season over a ranked opponent. Earlier in the season Logan won 56-55 at Huntington. It was at the time the first win over the Highlanders in girls’ basketball history.
The Lady Cats are scheduled to return to action on Wednesday at South Charleston. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. The Black Eagles beat Logan 50-48 earlier in the season at Willie Akers Arena.
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