Greenbrier East pulls away from Lady Cats
by Paul Adkins
For nearly three quarters the Logan High School girls’ basketball team gave No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Greenbrier East all it wanted on Friday night at Logan’s King Coal Classic tourney at Willie Akers Arena.
But then the Spartans pulled away to win 56-52 over the Lady Cats.
With the Logan-Belfry (Ky.) boys game cancelled due to snowy weather and many of those fans in the house, as well as the fans coming for the Tug Valley-Greenbrier East boys’ game at 8 p.m., the Logan girls played before its largest crowd of the season.
They watched as Greenbrier East moved its record to 10-0 on the season. Logan dropped to 8-4.
The final score was a bit deceiving.
Greenbrier East dominated the last half of the third quarter, going on a 17-4 run to take a 43-33 lead after three.
Then in the fourth, the Spartans pushed their lead to as many as 17 points before Greenbrier East coach Jim Justice went to the bench. Justice, the billionaire owner of the world famous Greenbrier Resort and also the head coach of the Greenbrier East boys’ basketball team, did double duty on Friday night.
That’s because his Greenbrier East boys played right after the girls and beat Tug Valley in dramatic fashion as Rondale Watson banked home a 3-pointer from half court at the buzzer as the Spartans went home with a 63-61 victory.
Down 56-44 late in the game, the Lady Cats somehow scored a frantic four baskets in the last 20 seconds to make the final a four-point margin.
Logan coach Kevin Gertz said he was disappointed with the loss.
“I’m still trying to figure it out,” he said. “We were up two at halftime and I thought that we were outstanding defensively. But offensively, I thought that we were terrible. There was too much standing around and were relying on one or two people too much. In the third quarter we just couldn’t get any stops defensively. We didn’t get any stops and they started pressing. They took away what we were trying to do.”
Logan freshman center Monica Mitchell led her team with a 20-point effort. Shayna Gore had 12 and Hannah Adkins 10 off the bench. Hannah Tothe nailed a couple of 3-pointers for six points and Kyra Cline also added a trey for three points.
Greenbrier East hit a flurry of 3-point shots — many from NBA range. Bianca Andre led the Spartans with 22 points. Elizabeth Romeo had 12, Chaunte McDowell nine, Victoria Krystynak seven, Chloe Honaker four and Alexis Tincher two.
“They may be the best 3-point shooting team in the state,” Gertz said of Greenbrier East. “They can do that and our girls knew that. But for us, Monica played well inside and scored 20 points. It ended up a four-point game but it was not a four-point game. They were up 10 or 12 and they took everybody out. Our girls don’t quit. We just don’t have a sense of urgency but that’s my fault. I can’t get them to understand that. I have to make them do that.”
With the big crowd despite the bad weather and with the tournament-like atmosphere, Gertz said it was a good night in that regard.
“There might have been 200 more people here than the Morgantown game,” he said. “We just didn’t give them anything to get excited about tonight. But it was great. Our community will support anything Logan High School does and I’m very thankful for that.”
Justice said he was happy to get out of Logan with a win — actually two wins — as his boys’ squad ended up with a dramatic buzzer-beater over Tug Valley.
“Logan has a great team,” Justice said. “That’s all that there is to it. They’ve got a super inside presence. They shoot the ball well and they have some good outside shooters as well. In the first half they were just taking it to us. Really and truly I thought that we were just lucky to be in the game at halftime. We made a substitution move in the second half and tried to spread the game out. We pressed them the whole time and went to a 3-2 defense. Victoria played well and we played a good second half against a good team. We were able to get some steals and that helped our transition game.”
Justice praised his team’s outstanding shooting from 3-point range.
“We can shoot it deep,” he said. “We’ve got four kids that can really shoot the basketball. Bianca, Liz Romeo, Honaker and McDowell can all shoot it.”
Justice said he was impressed with the King Coal Classic atmosphere.
“I have coached here a lot of games and it’s wonderful,” he said. “I am just so happy to be able to come back to the Coalfields. My grandparents grew up close to here and I saw many many games in Pineville, Logan and Oceana. It’s a great atmosphere here.”
The Lady Cats led Greenbrier East 20-18 at the half as Mitchell’s inside shot at the 1:18 mark put Logan on top at the break.
Early in the second half, another Mitchell inside-the-paint shot with 7:09 to go in the third made it a 22-18 game. It ended up being Logan’s largest lead of the night as the Spartans soon took control.
At the 6:20 mark, Andre’s 22-foot 3-ball deep in the corner tied it up at 24.
Logan went back on top at 26-24 briefly with another Mitchell hoop but that would be the last lead of the night for the Lady Cats.
Greenbrier East would go on a 17-4 run to go up 41-30 in the third. Andre keyed the Spartan scoring spurt with an old-fashioned three-point play, a half hook, a putback and another bucket in the paint.
Cline added a 3-pointer just before the horn as Logan trailed 43-33 after three.
Greenbrier East turned it up another notch in the fourth with a 7-0 run, pushing the lead to 50-33 with 6:33 left.
Justice then slowly began to take his starters out.
Logan closed the deficit and really made a late charge in the game’s final minute but still came up short.
Greenbrier East jumped ahead 6-0 in the first quarter after back-to-back NBA-range 3-pointers by McDowell and Romeo.
The Lady Cats pulled to within 14-11 after one stanza after a Gore topside 3.
Gore tied it at 16 in a low-scoring second quarter. Logan would outscore the Spartans 9-4 during the quarter to take a two-point edge at the half.
Coach Justice and the Greenbrier East boys were scheduled to return to Logan on Saturday night for contest against the host Wildcats.
Lady Cats Notebook
* The Logan girls are slated to return home for a Monday afternoon game against Class A county rival Man (9-4). Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. as the contest is set to be played in front of the LHS student body.
“We’ll have another good atmosphere and we’ll have another big crowd for that one,” Gertz said of the Man game. “There will be a lot of kids there. We have to get back on it. We’ve got three weeks to figure out what we need to do if we want to get out of the section and possibly get to the regionals and hopefully get to state. We’ve got three weeks of work to go.”
Logan beat Man 61-40 on the road in the season opener.
* The Logan-Greenbrier East King Coal Classic game had some unusual halftime entertainment to say the least.
Entertaining the crowd was Gail Mirabella and her “Dynamo Dogs.”
The dogs, which have been featured on TV on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the Late Show with David Letterman, dazzled the crowd with an array of Frisbee catches, jumps and stunts.
The dogs made a return trip to Logan. This past summer, the Dynamo Dogs were a feature attraction at Logan’s Freedom Festival.
Mirabella and her dogs are based out of Atlanta.
Logan Lady Cats (8-4)
2012-13 Girls’ Basketball Schedule
Nov. 27: at Man, W 61-40
Nov. 29: South Charleston, L 48-50
Dec. 5: at Westside, L 48-64
Dec. 13: at Huntington, W 56-55
Dec. 15: Capital, W 49-31
Dec. 18: Tolsia, W 51-41
Jan. 4: Morgantown, W 64-61
Jan. 9: at South Charleston, W 47-36
Jan. 12: at Winfield, L 55-57
Jan. 14: at Tolsia, W 52-47
Jan. 17: Lincoln County, W 70-52
Jan. 25: Greenbrier East, L 52-56
Jan. 28: Man, 1 p.m.
Jan. 30: at Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 2: at Morgantown, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 4: Westside, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 6: Spring Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 8: at Lincoln County, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 9: at Greenbrier East, 7 p.m.
Feb. 11: Winfield, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 14: Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
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