ST. ALBANS — It really doesn’t matter who the Logan High School girls’ basketball team is playing in this week’s state tournament.
Following last week’s 57-46 win at St. Albans in the Class AAA regional co-championship game the Lady Cats were confident.
With a difficult schedule and a lot of tough games logged this season by the Lady Cats, Logan is well prepared for the state tourney.
It all begins on Thursday at 11:15 a.m. as fifth-seeded Logan (15-9) is scheduled to play No. 4 seed Princeton (19-5) in one of the four Class AAA state tournament quarterfinals at the Charleston Civic Center.
A first-round victory over the Tigers would put Logan into the semifinals on Friday at 5:30 p.m., where the Lady Cats would most likely have a rematch against Class AAA sectional rival Spring Valley. Logan lost 68-67 to Spring Valley in the sectional title game a couple of weeks ago in a contest which went right down to the wire with the Lady Cats having a chance to win it.
The No. 2-ranked and top-seeded Timberwolves (22-3) open state play on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. against No. 8 Capital (10-13).
Capital shocked the state with a 54-45 upset win over No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Greenbrier East last Thursday night in the Region 3 title game.
The loss by East has seemed to open the door for the Lady Cats.
Logan is led by 5-foot-11 sophomore guard Shayna Gore and 6-2 freshman center Monica Mitchell, who averages a double-double per game for the Lady Cats at 16 points and 15 rebounds per contest.
“We just have to go out with the attitude that we can win it all,” Mitchell said when asked last week about the state tourney. “We have to play hard. It has been amazing this year. I’m just so pleased with everybody. We are all like sisters.”
Gore averages nearly 20 points per contest for Logan. She poured in 36 points in the loss to Spring Valley in the sectional final, following a 27-point game in a 78-70 first-round sectional win over No. 3-ranked Huntington, which ended the Highlanders’ season.
“It’s looking good if we work hard,” Gore said. “I believe in us.”
Senior guard Hannah Tothe has had a long journey in reaching the state tourney. In her freshman year, Logan struggled through a losing season. New coach Kevin Gertz then stepped in and has led a turnaround with the Lady Cat program the last three years.
Logan went just 8-15 last year and endured a first-round sectional exit.
This year, the Lady Cats have hit their stride and are playing their best basketball of the season.
“I’ve had the worst and I’ve had the best,” Tothe said. “Our record doesn’t mean anything. It’s great to be going to the Civic Center to play. We have a great chance. It’s right there. If we want it and we work for it we can do it. It’s right there in our hands. I think our schedule has helped us a lot. It’s helped us grow together and play together. We know who all the tough teams are and I think that will help us. We’ve already played some of the teams in the state tournament.”
Sophomore guard Kyra Cline has teammed with Tothe to form a potent one-two shooting threat from beyond the 3-point arc.
“It’s been great to be a part of this,” Cline said after the win over St. Albans last week. “We’ve worked hard for this and it’s been great to see the program grow like this. It’s going to be tough at state but we can beat anybody in the state if we work hard enough and play our best.”
Senior forward Rachelle Toppings said Logan has a good shot at going all the way because of its strength of schedule.
Logan has split this season with state tourney team Morgantown and also played Greenbrier East twice and Class AA No. 1 Westside twice as well as having tough matchups against teams like Spring Valley, Huntington and others.
“I think that we’ve got a chance because we’ve played a lot of the teams,” Toppings said. “If we keep playing how we’ve been playing we’ve got a chance.”
Senior 5-10 reserve forward Jenna Kimler said Logan’s team chemistry has been great this season.
“It’s been great to see everyone come together,” Kimler said. “We really click as a team. We’re not just teammates we are best friends. We get along at school and we help each other. It’s great to be a part of this. It’s going to be tremendous to play on the Civic Center floor. I can’t wait. I am so excited. I would rather go out on the Civic Center floor on the first day of the tournament than to go out here (at St. Albans).”
Senior starter Kelsey Kirk, a 5-9 forward, said she is confident as well.
“I think our chances are pretty good. I’ve been waiting to play on the Civic Center floor since my freshman year,” Kirk said.
Sophomore guard Hannah Adkins said making it to the state tourney has been a dream come true.
“At the beginning of the year we knew that we were going to be good but we never dreamed of making it this far,” Adkins said. “But when you get to the state tournament anything is possible.”
Summer Collins, a key sophomore guard off the bench, said Logan should perform well at the Big House.
“It was really tough last year, so this year we knew that we had to step up,” Collins said. “We knew that we could make a difference in this team. We have, and I think everyone will remember us from now on. Anything is possible at the state tournament. We’ve got the biggest heart out there. When we play well, nobody can stop us. I believe that.”
Senior Katie Kirk, a 5-9 forward and Kelsey’s twin sister, said everyone on the team has contributed to Logan’s success.
For the Lady Cats its their first trip to the state tourney since 2000 and only the third trip overall with the other being back in 1976 when the WVSSAC sanctioned the first-ever girls’ state tournament.
“I think playing the tough teams during the regular season and helped us out a whole lot,” Kirk said. “We’ll be prepared for state. We have our big players but everyone has contributed. It will be a little nerve-wracking playing at the Civic Center but I think that we’ll be ready for it.”
The other two Class AAA state tourney games have No. 2 seed Morgantown (19-5) taking on No. 7 Martinsburg (15-6) on Wednesday at 11:15 a.m. and No. 3 Parkersburg South (17-7) battling it out against Hedgesville (18-7) on Thursday at 7:15 p.m.
The other semifinal is scheduled for Friday at 9 p.m.
The state championship game is set for Saturday at 7:15 p.m. at the Civic Center.
Logan is 0-2 all-time in state tourney games.
The Lady Cats lost 64-44 to Huntington in 2000 in their last state tournament game.
The 3A state tourney field was shaken up last week with Capital’s huge upset over top-ranked Greenbrier East, which went into the game with a 24-0 record.
East went 0-for-23 from the 3-point line and turned the ball over 19 times. Capital also owned a 55-39 rebounding edge.
Logan’s opponent, Princeton, advanced to state with a 71-66 regional tourney win over George Washington. The Tigers won over Beckley (46-28) in the sectional tourney before falling 68-51 to Greenbrier East in the sectional finals.
Princeton also played Spring Valley this season, and like Logan, lost by one point to the T-Wolves, 67-66. The Tigers also lost to Huntington, 69-65.
Princeton is led by standout guard McKenzie Akers (5-6), who averages 25.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals a game.
The Tigers posted a 19-5 record this season in the tough Mountain State Athletic Conference.
Logan Lady Cats (15-9)
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. 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), L 67-68
Feb. 26: at St. Albans (regional), W 57-46
March 7: vs. Princeton (state tourney), 11:15 a.m.