HUNTINGTON — There were many who were surprised by the Logan High School girls’ basketball team’s win earlier in the season at Huntington.
It was the first ever victory by a Logan team over the powerhouse Highlanders.
But the Lady Cats proved it was no fluke as Logan returned to Huntington on Wednesday night and shocked the No. 2 seed and third-ranked Lady Highlanders again with a huge 78-70 win over Huntington in the Class AAA Region 4 Section 2 semifinals at the Huntington High School gym.
The victory moves unranked and third-seeded Logan (14-8) into Friday night’s sectional championship game with No. 1 seed and Class AAA No. 2-ranked Spring Valley (20-3), which knocked off Cabell Midland 57-47 in Wednesday night’s other Class AAA sectional game at Huntington.
Logan had beaten Huntington earlier in the season, 56-55, as the Lady Cats rallied back from a 22-point deficit.
They would need no comeback this time as Huntington saw its season come to a close at 18-5.
Logan was led again by all-state sophomore guard Shayna Gore, who scored 27 points and handed out 12 assists for a double-double.
With the win over Huntington and regardless of the outcome on Friday night against Spring Valley, the Lady Cats are assured of a trip next week to the Class AAA regional tournament. A win there and Logan will be playing in the 3A state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center, March 6-9.
“This may be as big a win that this program has ever had,” Logan third-year coach Kevin Gertz said. “To beat them a second time at their place is unbelievable.”
Logan put the pressure on Huntington in Wednesday night’s game with its 3-point marksmanship as the Lady Cats drilled 11 treys on the evening.
LHS also got a big game down low by 6-foot-2 freshman center Monica Mitchell, who had a double-double with 21 points and 19 rebounds.
Mitchell also had a tough defensive assignment as she had to check off Huntington’s duo of Ericka Budd and Dominique Gibson. Budd ended up fouling out early in the third quarter and Gibson left the game with an injury.
Logan led Huntington 18-17 after one quarter, 33-26 after three and 46-41 after three, then outscored the Highlanders 32-29 in the fourth.
The Highlanders twice cut Logan’s lead to two points in the fourth quarter but critical back-to-back 3-pointers by Gore and Kyra Cline pushed the lead to 10 points.
Huntington was toast.
“We were up double digits in the fourth quarter but I couldn’t get them to slow down,” Gertz said. “I tried but I couldn’t. We never played a tight game with a lead. We were letting them fly but they don’t understand that you don’t let them fly when you are up late in the game.”
The Lady Cats also got fine efforts from Cline and senior guard Hannah Tothe who netted 14 and 13 points respectively. Rachelle Toppings chipped in with three points.
Cline and Gore each nailed four 3-pointers for Logan. Tothe made three treys.
On defense, Logan went to a box-and-one against Huntington’s top scorer Kiana Evans. The Marshall University signee could not get into the flow of the game but did finish with 22 points.
Dazha Congleton added 18 points for the Highlanders. Alexis Williamson had 11.
Logan now turns its attention to the sectional title game with Spring Valley.
The two teams met once earlier in the season at Logan as Spring Valley rolled to a 76-49 victory on Feb. 6.
The Lady Cats and the Timberwolves are scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. at Huntington High School on Friday night.
Spring Valley had to fight off a stubborn Cabell Midland team to advance. The Knights trailed by just four points with 2:20 left. The Timberwolves then were able to finish off the Cabell Midland with the help of three turnovers by the Knights.
Spring Valley was led by Madison Morris, who had double-double numbers with 22 points and 12 boards. Brooke Heck added 11 points.
After taking on Spring Valley, Logan is scheduled to play either St. Albans or Winfield (12-11) next Tuesday in the Class AA regional tournament.
Logan split with Winfield this season, losing 57-55 on the road and winning 73-45 late in the season at home.
Winfield advanced with a 41-30 sectional tourney win over Point Pleasant.
Logan did not meet St. Albans during the regular season.
Both Winfield and St. Albans are unranked.
Logan is looking for its first state tourney berth since 2000.
A win over Spring Valley would not only give Logan the sectional championship, it would also give Logan a home regional championship game on Tuesday for a berth in the state tourney.
The Lady Cats have only made it to state twice in school history with the other berth being way back in 1976.
Gertz said he’s proud of his team for being so close to making it to Charleston.
“I couldn’t be any prouder,” he said. “We’re in the regional tournament regardless no matter what happens. But don’t get me wrong. I want to have a home regional. The win was so big over Huntington because if we would have lost we would have been done. I want a home regional game and I’m not sure if this program has ever had that.”
Gertz said he encourages Logan fans to turn out for Friday’s finals. Hundreds of Logan fans cheered on the Lady Cats in the win over Huntington.
“Our fan base was unbelievable,” Gertz said. “We probably had 4-to-1 more fans than they had. We might have had 500 fans and that’s fantastic for a girls’ road game. That’s unbelievable.”
Logan’s girls’ basketball fan base has grown tremendously this season.
Home games this season at Willie Akers Arena against Morgantown and Greenbrier East drew large crowds that have not been seen in the history of Logan girls’ basketball.
“It really has grown,” Gertz said. “I remember going to work games before I got here and there were home games that you could count 20 or 30 people in the stands. It was unbelievable to see all the fans and the awareness that has been created in girls’ basketball.”
Logan Lady Cats (14-8)
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, W 72-52
Jan. 30: at Chapmanville, W 66-36
Feb. 2: at Morgantown, L 46-66
Feb. 4: Westside, ppd.
Feb. 6: Spring Valley, L 49-76
Feb. 8: at Lincoln County, W 69-42
Feb. 9: at Greenbrier East, L 62-66
Feb. 11: Winfield, W 73-45
Feb. 14: Chapmanville, W 61-30
Feb. 15: Westside, L 48-61
Feb. 20: at Huntington (sectionals), W 78-70
Feb. 22: vs. Spring Valley (sectional finals), 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 26: vs. Winfield or St. Albans (regional co-finals), 7:30 p.m.