ST. ALBANS — It’s an exciting time to be a Logan High School girls’ basketball player or fan.
The Lady Cats wrapped up just their third ever trip to the state tournament with Tuesday night’s 57-46 win at St. Albans in the Region 4 co-championship game.
Logan’s only other trips to the big dance were in 1976 — the first year the WVSSAC sanctioned a state girls’ basketball tournament — and in 2000 under former coach Tim Cunningham.
Logan enters the state tourney with a 15-9 record but don’t let that record fool you.
The Lady Cats have played one of the toughest schedules in the state with home-and-homes against Class AAA No. 1 Greenrbier East, 3A state power Morgantown and Class AA defending state champion and No. 1-ranked Westside.
Logan nearly pulled off a huge upset the week before in the sectional championship game at Huntington as the Lady Cats lost 68-67 to Class AAA No. 2-ranked Spring Valley. Logan had already knocked out No. 3-ranked Huntington 78-70 on its home floor in the sectional tourney semifinals.
The Lady Cats don’t know who they will play yet in the state tourney as the seeds were still not announced as of Thursday but it really doesn’t matter.
Come March 6, Logan will be ready to invade the Charleston Civic Center with a load of confidence and swagger.
“It feels amazing. It’s the best feeling in the world,” freshman center Monica Mitchell said after the win over St. Albans when asked about reaching the state tournament. “I am absolutely amazed. We have worked so hard. We have built a program and this is going to build it up some more. I’m happy to be going to state.”
Gore was held to just nine points in the win over St. Albans but was brilliant in the sectionals as she lit up Huntington for 27 points and scorched Spring Valley for a career-high 36.
“When we play a lot of teams they all look at me but it’s not about me it’s about the whole team,” Gore said. “The whole team has been involved this year.”
Senior guard Hannah Tothe was Logan’s bread-and-butter against St. Albans as she burned the nets with 20 points and five made 3-point shots.
Tothe said Logan will do just fine at state but knows Gore must carry the bulk of the load.
“Shayna’s our playmaker. If we keep her head in the game we all fall together,” she said. “We play off of her. If she plays well we’re going to play phenomenal.”
Sophomore Kyra Cline was also huge in the win over St. Albans as she sank three treys and finished with 16 points.
She, too, is excited about playing at the Big House for the first time.
“This is awesome. I can’t believe it,” Cline said. “We worked so hard for this. We deserve it.”
Senior Rachelle Toppings, also an outstanding shortstop for the Logan softball team, missed much of the season with a foot injury but returned late in the campaign.
“I would have never have dreamed of making it there. It’s been a dream come true,” Toppings said. “We had our ups and downs. We got on a winning streak and I was out a while with a foot injury. I’m just glad that we made it this far. I’m just so happy.”
Senior forward Jenna Kimler has been another key role player off the bench for Coach Kevin Gertz’s squad.
She said going to play at the state tournament will be a perfect way to cap off her prep career.
“It’s amazing. I can’t believe in my last year that we are actually going to go to the state tournament,” Kimler said. “That’s something that we’ve never done before and I’m glad that I will be a part of it.”
Senior Kelsey Kirk has been a starter for most of the season and said it feels good to make it to Charleston.
“It feels pretty good. We’ve worked really hard for this and we finally made it,” Kirk said. “Coach Gertz is a good coach and he always believes in us. He makes us want to work that much harder.”
Hannah Adkins is a relative newcomer to the Logan program but has given Coach Gertz some good minutes off the bench.
“It feels unreal to get to go to state,” Adkins said. “This is my first year playing since my freshman year. I’m happy for the seniors because they deserve it. I think that we’ve got a really good chance at going all the way.”
Sophomore guard Summer Collins has also been a key reserve off the bench and has often teammed with Adkins on Logan’s “speed unit.” Both have been outstanding on defense.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Collins said of reaching the state tourney. “Last year, I went to the state tournament in softball but nothing compares to this. This was an amazing atmosphere and I love our fans. We couldn’t be here without them. I appreciate being on this team and our seniors and our whole program.”
Senior Katie Kirk is Kelsey’s twin sister and has also provided the Lady Cats with big rebounds and minutes in a reserve role.
“It’s very exciting. This is what I worked my whole career for,” Kirk said. “We’ve worked very hard for this and we’ve had a lot of blood, sweat and tears.”